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Journal - Essay Example

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Rebecca Meng ECON 3520 Professor Dyer 9 November 2012 Commoditization of money The money theme that I have chosen to investigate is: Money is not like other goods and services. I found that Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift” helped illuminate this concept for me…
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Download file to see previous pages Is it truly desirable to be free from the social bonds and obligations of a community? I am not convinced. I would argue that money, more than any good or service, has been commoditized in our economic system and created alienation. The last three decades have seen an explosion of money, commodity markets and communications which now beginning to bear the consequences. Whatever else this period of ‘globalization’ brings about, it represents a rapid society extension to a more comprehensive level than the 20th century norm which categorized society with a nation-state. So as to live in this world together, we must devise new ways of executing things for each other which go beyond our attempts on achieving local self-sufficiency (Holmes 13). I term this historical process ‘commoditization’. In history, commoditization has been closely related to the social extension by means of money and markets. Money is unique because its value is not inherent but ascribed. In a barter system absent of money there is obvious and immediate benefit for both parties in an exchange. When utilization of a fiat currency is employed, it means that benefits are not immediate (they are at least one step removed) and assumes that the currency will be recognized by future trading partners. In this system, money should function as a means to an end and be perceived as a proxy for goods and services. All value to money is ascribed – once a currency is no longer recognized as valid, it is useless or literally “not worth the paper it’s printed on” (Holmes 46). Since money must be widely recognized as legitimate in order to be useful, it also functions as a form of social control. The issuer of money implicitly offers a contract to users wherein the latter will follow the rules of the former. Participation in a nation’s economy is dependent on an individual’s willingness to use that nation’s form of currency. A few of my own journal works tie into this theme. The first pertains to the differences in lending that I have observed in my personal life and comes from a journal entry I wrote on September 24th. Specifically, if one friend lends another a good or service of relatively low value, there is no expectation of reimbursement. However, if the same value amount of money were to be exchanged between friends, an expectation of reimbursement would exist. This is an example of the commoditizing and alienating effects of money that Hyde discusses. It begs the question: why is the exchange of money an alienating and impersonal interaction? I believe part of the answer lies in the fact that money is not available for immediate consumption. It is instead a credit, or “IOU” that can be redeemed in a later transaction. Related to this is the fact that in the United States it is considered impolite to give money as a gift. Another journal entry was about an interesting news story I read on October 18th. The story, “Seizure of Ship From Argentina Forces Shake-Up,” by Emily Schmall, came from the New York Times. It was about a US hedge fund, Elliot Capital Management, which seized an Argentine ship that had docked in Ghana. The fund is owed $370 million by the Argentine government as a result of its 2001 default. I was struck by the fact that a private enterprise such as a hedge fund could find backing from courts in the US and Ghana to seize a government asset. Though Argentina is appealing their case to the ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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