25. March 2006 · Comments Off on New International Capital Market · Categories: General, Technology

A decade and a half ago, Richard B. McKenzie and Dwight R. Lee wrote Quicksilver Capital: How the Rapid Movement of Wealth Has Changed the World. This has proven to be one of the most prophetic tomes on contemporary economics written in my adult lifetime.

Yet, capital markets have lagged behind others in employing information age technologies. But, as Hillary Johnson writes here at Samizdata, that is changing:

Should money be as free as speech? After all, it is also a form of communication.

In the past year, the internet has spawned a few companies aimed at helping individuals borrow and lend without bothering to involve a bank or credit agency. Zopa, based in the UK, aggregates individuals into groups for the purpose of making small loans, with a socially conscious slant. In the US, Prosper just launched a sleek, well-designed person-to-person lending site. Borrowers can also form groups on Prosper, for the sake of leveraging better interest rates. I also know of at least one nascent project, Bruce Boston’s Quid St., which aims to aggregate individuals for the purpose of making capital investments (as opposed to loans). I met Bruce recently, and he mentioned what an influence gaming had on his view of how to build an online marketplace. Which put me in mind of the Park Paradigm, a blog about digital markets whose authors think future finical [sic] markets may evolve out of sports book and gambling sites. And not entirely unrelated note, Paypal made it possible just this week for people to send each other money anywhere, via cell phone.

What we are witnessing here, I think, is the creation of a new international capital market.

Many of my libertarian compatriots cling to the antiquated ideal of a commodity (principally, gold) based monetary system. The justification for this is that it prevents abuse by central banks. But the information age is increasingly making the old central bank model, and with it the gold standard, obsolete.

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