The Future of Futures
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The Future of Futures

The Time of Money in Financing and Society

Elena Esposito

This book reconstructs the dynamics of economics, beginning explicitly with the role and the relevance of time: money uses the future in order to generate present wealth. Financial markets sell and buy risk, thereby binding the future. Elena Esposito explains that complex risk management techniques of structured finance produce new and uncontrolled risks because they use a simplified idea of the future, failing to account for how the future reacts to attempts at controlling it. During the recent financial crisis, the future had already been used (through securitizations, derivatives and other tools) to the extent that we had many futures, but no open future available.
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Chapter 3: Economy is Time: Needs and Scarcity

Elena Esposito

Extract

3. Economy is time: needs and scarcity Risks are widespread in every aspect of our lives and they produce uncertainty. However, we can insure ourselves against these uncertainties. This gives us the impression that we are protected against them. Insurance, however, cannot guarantee that the things we fear will not come about, only that we shall be compensated should they arise. Insurance transforms diffuse dangers into economic risks. The economy has a very close relationship with risk (section 1). Money serves as a reassurance against an obscure future, because it guarantees that we shall be able to satisfy our future needs even if we do not know today what those future needs will be (and, indeed, we don’t have to know). Money, therefore, is not needed in order to satisfy present needs, but to manage the uncertainty of the future. Its essence is time. This temporal aspect of economic exchanges and credit was rejected in both antiquity and the Middle Ages (section 2). The idea that one could create wealth through the circulation of money was believed to go against the natural order of things. One who lends money, such as a usurer, for example, creates wealth by selling time. Time, however, does not belong to men, but to God. One who sells time, then, is committing a serious theft in that he/she is stealing from God. In modern society, where it was accepted that the movement of money does not destroy the order of things, but only creates a...

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