Paleofinance

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Og moved slowly along his morning commute.  He was lost in thought.
“Good morning, Og!” cried Ug, who had spotted him coming along the path.
“Morning,” muttered Og as they joined paths.
“Sleep OK?  You seem tired.”
“Nah, I was up all night.  Couldn’t get a wink.”
“I know a guy who’s got this root.  It might help you.  You should really see him.”
“You mean Oog?  That guy’s a quack.  No, thanks.”
“Have it your way,” shrugged Ug.  The two walked together quietly for a few minutes.
“You know, I was just thinking…” started Og.
“Not again!” sighed Ug.
“Just listen.  You know how you need a woman and a man to make a baby?”
“Yeah… I heard some of the guys talking about that the other day.  It’s like they can’t do it without our help.”
“Right!  Well, I was just thinking… maybe it’s the same for the beasts.”
“Really?  OK, so what?”
“Well, I was just thinking, maybe, if you got a man beast and a woman beast, and put them together for a while, then you could have a lot of baby beasts.”
“That’s a fine idea,” said Ug, “but finding them isn’t really the hard part.  It’s all the chasing.”
“Right… Well, what if we had a sort of… thing… to keep them in a smaller area, so we don’t have to chase them so much?”
“OK, I’ll bite.  What sort of ‘thing’ did you have in mind.”
“I don’t know.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  It would be like a lot of trees lined up in a row, but in a big circle.  Let’s call it a fence.
Ug furrowed his brow.  “That’s a funny word for it.”
“Anyway, so we put the beasts inside the fence and let them make baby beasts.  Then, we eat them!”
“Huh.  This all sounds like a lot of work.”  Ug was somewhat skeptical of this idea.
“You’re right.  We would need help.”  The conversation fell silent for a few minutes while the two considered the problem.
“I’ve got it!” cried Og.  “We share the meat!”
“With the others who help make your… funce thing!  Interesting…” Ug was starting to see the point.
“It’s called a fence, and yes!  Oh but wait… there is no meat.  There are just baby beasts, and also the man beast and the woman beast, but we can’t eat them.  We need them to make the baby beasts.”
“OK, so we share the promise of future meat with the ones who help build the fence,” thought Ug.
Og knew that Ug was on to something.  He started to become agitated.  “Yes!   The promise of future meat!  We will give them small rocks instead, and call it… money!
“That’s a weird word.  I don’t like it,” scowled Ug.
“Too bad.  It’s my word.”
“But… what happens if some people get more of the nummy than others?  Won’t they be jealous and make trouble?”
“It’s pronounced money, and yes, I suppose you’re right.  OK, so we’ll need a safe place for people to keep it.  I’ll call it a bank.
Ug rolled his eyes and sat down.  He knew that, once Og was on a roll, there was no point in trying to stop him.  He settled in for a long ride.
“Banks can let other people borrow the money so that they can make their own fences and beasts and maybe even other things.  For this service, banks can charge… interest!  This interest will need to be computed.  Maybe somebody can invent a machine that will do that.  And lots of other machines, to do all sorts of things, too!”
“A what?!” interrupted Ug.
“I don’t know, I just made it up.  Work with me, here.”
“Fine…” sighed Ug.
“People will want to own a piece of the beast farm.  Maybe they could use their money to buy little pieces of it.  I’ll call that equity.   Of course, there will be risk involved.  So we’ll need something else… I’ll call this a derivative.  And we’ll need all sorts of things like binary options, exchange-traded derivative contracts, credit default swaps, and mortgage backed securities to make it all go.”
“This is all getting quite complicated.  Are you sure you know what you’re talking about?”
“Sure… It’s fine.  It’s just math.  People will love this.  You’ll see.”
“Well, I admit, I like it a lot better than your last idea about the tiny invisible bugs that make us sick.”
“… and naked shorts, and synthetic collateralized debt obligations, and — who the hell are you?!”
Og stopped in amazement as he beheld the small man before him who was wearing a white garment made of some sort of leather.
“Look, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation,” said the little man.  “I think you two are getting a bit ahead of yourselves.”
He raised a smallish object which he pointed in their direction.
“Hey!  I saw a thing like that in my dream last night.  I called it a gu —
But before Og could finish his sentence, he had forgotten what he was going to say.  In fact, he had forgotten almost everything.
“Me… Og,” said Og.
“Me Ug,” said Ug.
“Good day, gentlemen,” said the man.  Og and Ug watched as he walked into a very strange sort of flying cave, and was gone.

 

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