What dollars are actually saying

–Aren’t there better stories to tell our people? At one end, after three decades of grounding (down) macroeconomics into microeconomics, there are the legion of still-breeding Lord Voldemorts and their trillions in wealth destruction. At the other extreme are the neo-Keynesian Mad Hatters, where the worst possible thing you can do when things get bad is to save for when things go worse and the best possible thing to do is to spend wads of money you don’t have.

–My counter-story starts this way:

You don’t know it, but each dollar bill talks and what it talks about is how it passes from hand to different hand, multiplying its uses and impact. The dollar bill reports so many stories, each of which reads differently but all of which sound the same–that is, to the economy.

The economy, you see, is stone-dumb to any of this, assuming the dollar bills behind follow the dollar bills ahead, as if those ahead must know what they’re doing. And this, the economy calls, always-late capitalism.

If the economy listened to the dollar bills, it might learn something. Like what? Like dollar bills are all about ensuring that things be diverse and not end any time soon (i.e., ensuring that in the long run there’s just more short runs).

Now, of course, if the economy weren’t so dumb it might insist that this state of affairs just can’t go on forever. But the dollar bills are saying, in their cacophonous way, that the buck doesn’t stop here–or anywhere for that matter. Always-late capitalism has been going on for so long, it might be better to assume what stops first will not be late capitalism but calling it such. . .

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