Economics of time travel

Post your reality fanfiction here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
martin878
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:47 pm UTC
Location: Oxford, UK

Economics of time travel

Postby martin878 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:26 pm UTC

I did a quick search for this but couldn't find anything - apologies if there is. I know it could be one of those hot topics that comes up over and over.

  • Invest money in a bank
  • Fly near the speed of light away from Earth, then back again
  • You experience a week or so, the bank experiences say a year
  • So you get loads of interest in a short time (for you)
The question is - would the interest rate be lowered to discourage this? Or would people just get so rich that there's hyperinflation? Is there any way the system can be stabilised?

I'm sure there are sources on the net about this, but don't just post links. I'm interested what you each think. :idea:

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Dec 03, 2010 12:46 pm UTC

Interest rates tend to hover at around the rate of inflation, so the money you get out will be worth exactly the same as the amount you put in. The more sensible option would be to go so far forward in time that post-scarcity society is achieved. That way you can live like a king without any money at all.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

User avatar
martin878
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:47 pm UTC
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby martin878 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:07 pm UTC

But I like my friends! I can handle missing out on one year of their lives but not a thousand.

Fair point about inflation though. We need something that will beat inflation such a valuable commodity to take with us in the ship. Ideas?

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:18 pm UTC

What about investing in a company that went up in value... I mean, didn't you watch Primer?
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
martin878
Posts: 63
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:47 pm UTC
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby martin878 » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:07 pm UTC

Nope, but I should do. From what I skim read (no spoilers please) they went back in time, rather than forward. Investments aren't such a great idea for going forward unless you take it with you otherwise it could lose value while you're away.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:23 pm UTC

In that case you're not talking about the economics of time travel, but just those of time dilation.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby SlyReaper » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:31 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:In that case you're not talking about the economics of time travel, but just those of time dilation.

Eh, it's pretty much the same thing, just monodirectional.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

andyisagod
Posts: 146
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby andyisagod » Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:48 pm UTC

This didn't work out so well for the guy in The Sleeper Awakes

Turtlewing
Posts: 236
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 5:22 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Turtlewing » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:08 pm UTC

Investing with time dilation is essentually the same as without (only you have less ability to moniter your investments). Since no information from the future is available you still have to make speculative choices that could either be right or wrong. Given the increased time of the planned investment and the lessened ability to "bail" if things go bad I'd expect near-light investing to be higher risk than normal investing.

GeorgeH
Posts: 527
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:36 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby GeorgeH » Fri Dec 03, 2010 7:00 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:Interest rates tend to hover at around the rate of inflation, so the money you get out will be worth exactly the same as the amount you put in. The more sensible option would be to go so far forward in time that post-scarcity society is achieved. That way you can live like a king without any money at all.


Grabbing historical CD rates from here, the average rate between 1993 and 2008 was 4.775%.

Using this compound interest calculator with that average, $1000 USD deposited in 1993 would be ~$2000 in 2008.

According to this website, $1000 1993 USD would be worth:
$1,490.00 using the Consumer Price Index
$1,390.00 using the GDP deflator
$1,640.00 using the value of consumer bundle
$1,580.00 using the unskilled wage
$1,600.00 using the Production Worker Compensation
$1,850.00 using the nominal GDP per capita
$2,170.00 using the relative share of GDP

Averaging those out, we get ~$1700. Working backwards, that means your 1993 self just added ~$200 to their initial $1000. Not too shabby, although we haven't included taxes yet.

DrSir
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Oct 03, 2009 3:35 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby DrSir » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:20 am UTC

Turtlewing wrote:Investing with time dilation is essentually the same as without (only you have less ability to moniter your investments). Since no information from the future is available you still have to make speculative choices that could either be right or wrong. Given the increased time of the planned investment and the lessened ability to "bail" if things go bad I'd expect near-light investing to be higher risk than normal investing.


True, but it also allows a long time period to pass by quickly. It's high-risk and little time needed to pass make it more like betting than a normal investment I think.

User avatar
thoughtfully
Posts: 2253
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:25 am UTC
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby thoughtfully » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:32 am UTC

Well, if you've got enough money, it's straightforward enough to hire somebody to manage it for you. Lots of people do. You would also presumably spread it around some to limit the risk of losing it all when something goes funny for one piece of it.
Image
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:44 am UTC

GeorgeH wrote:Grabbing historical CD rates from here, the average rate between 1993 and 2008 was 4.775%.
In addition to the fact that that's already higher than inflation over the same period, it would be silly to invest in a series of one-year CDs if you're planning to sit on your investment for 15 years, since rates are higher for longer terms. For that same period, the average rate for 5Y CDs was 5.405. And if you happened to first invest in 1995, in 5Y CDs that were automatically reinvested twice more at the new average rate, then you'd have made about 7.67 APY for 5 years, followed by 7.595, followed by 4.957. Which amounts to a total average accumulation factor of 2.66, which is even less shabby than a "mere" doubling of your money.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

Glass Fractal
Posts: 497
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 2:53 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Glass Fractal » Sat Dec 04, 2010 2:20 pm UTC

martin878 wrote:Is there any way the system can be stabilised?


Just factor in the cost of accelerating up to such a ridiculous speed.

Asphias
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 4:19 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Asphias » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:37 pm UTC

wouldn´t Cryopreservation be a lot cheaper then having to accelerate to near-lightspeed and back?

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby SlyReaper » Sat Dec 04, 2010 6:47 pm UTC

Asphias wrote:wouldn´t Cryopreservation be a lot cheaper then having to accelerate to near-lightspeed and back?

Except we don't yet know how to do that without killing the preservee. We do at least know how to brute force an object to high velocities.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

GeorgeH
Posts: 527
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:36 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby GeorgeH » Sat Dec 04, 2010 7:11 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:We do at least know how to brute force an object to high velocities.

Yep, and if you want to do it in a reasonable timeframe you'll only need to make 12 easy payments of the combined European GDP.

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Diadem » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:50 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
Asphias wrote:wouldn´t Cryopreservation be a lot cheaper then having to accelerate to near-lightspeed and back?

Except we don't yet know how to do that without killing the preservee. We do at least know how to brute force an object to high velocities.

We do? Have we even breached 1/1000 of the light speed yet? Not counting particle accelerators.

[edit]
Oh, wow, we did. Our record is 70.22 km/s which is 0.00234c, set by the helios probes. At 0.00234c you've reached a time dilation of 1.00000274. You save almost ond and a half minute every year. Cool.
Last edited by Diadem on Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:57 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

User avatar
Robert'); DROP TABLE *;
Posts: 730
Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 6:46 pm UTC
Location: in ur fieldz

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Robert'); DROP TABLE *; » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:53 pm UTC

We know what to build, but have nowhere near the resources to actually build it.
...And that is how we know the Earth to be banana-shaped.

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Diadem » Sat Dec 04, 2010 8:57 pm UTC

Robert'); DROP TABLE *; wrote:We know what to build, but have nowhere near the resources to actually build it.

That thing uses antimatter enginges. That's not just a matter of not having the resources to build it. We have no idea how to produce that much antimatter in a feasible amount of time, and we have no idea how to store it if we did.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

User avatar
thoughtfully
Posts: 2253
Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:25 am UTC
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby thoughtfully » Sat Dec 04, 2010 9:28 pm UTC

There are designs that utilize modest amounts of antimatter, which would get you something "in-between". You can balance the feasibility of production/storage with acceleration/dilation.
Image
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:04 am UTC

Keep in mind that even 0.9c doesn't get you anything like the kind of time dilation you'd really want to take advantage of economics in this way.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7590
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Zamfir » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:44 am UTC

Paul Krugman wrote an article on the economics of interstellar trade, focusing on the right discount rates to use if time dilation is significant:
http://www.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/interstellar.pdf
His main conclusions are that you have to work with discount rates as measured in the frame of the start and destination, not of the trader, and that interest rates between start and destination will be equal, even though capital goods cannot move between them faster than the speed of light. Mostly, the paper is an exercise in bad puns. "I do not pretend to develop a theory that is universally valid, but it may at least have some galactic relevance". He did in the end get a Nobel price for his work on the effects of geography and distance on economics.

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Dec 06, 2010 8:59 am UTC

thoughtfully wrote:There are designs that utilize modest amounts of antimatter, which would get you something "in-between". You can balance the feasibility of production/storage with acceleration/dilation.

I was actually thinking of a simple system of hurling weights out the arse end of the ship at near light speed, to impart momentum to the ship. Yes, this would require massive amounts of energy, hence "brute force".
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:51 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Robert'); DROP TABLE *; wrote:We know what to build, but have nowhere near the resources to actually build it.

That thing uses antimatter enginges. That's not just a matter of not having the resources to build it. We have no idea how to produce that much antimatter in a feasible amount of time, and we have no idea how to store it if we did.


That's easy. Just make the entire ship out of antimatter then. It can hold it's own fuel. It will work perfectly safe. Just open the cabin door and...
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:I was actually thinking of a simple system of hurling weights out the arse end of the ship at near light speed, to impart momentum to the ship.
In other words, a rocket? (Granted, the size of individual weights is typically quite small, but it's the same principle.)
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
SlyReaper
inflatable
Posts: 8015
Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:09 pm UTC
Location: Bristol, Old Blighty

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:54 pm UTC

A rocket than can shove propellant out of its backside at relativistic velocities, yes.
Image
What would Baron Harkonnen do?

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26765
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Dec 06, 2010 4:32 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:A rocket than can shove propellant out of its backside at relativistic velocities, yes.
Which would be much much easier to do if the propellant was in plasma form rather than "weight" form.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

charonme
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 11:18 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby charonme » Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:47 pm UTC

The technology needs to be accessible only to few, otherwise everybody would try it, leaving no one to actually work and produce that new wealth (perhaps except for waiting for crops to grow or solar energy to accumulate etc.) So it leaves you with a unique technology that no one else has... I think you would make much more money selling or renting it.

HungryHobo
Posts: 1708
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby HungryHobo » Wed Mar 09, 2011 1:31 pm UTC

I suspect that if it were easy to go into deep freeze or on a long voyage then the return on long term investments would simply go down as people would be more willing to invest in them.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

User avatar
Meteorswarm
Posts: 979
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:28 am UTC
Location: Ithaca, NY

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Meteorswarm » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:48 am UTC

HungryHobo wrote:I suspect that if it were easy to go into deep freeze or on a long voyage then the return on long term investments would simply go down as people would be more willing to invest in them.


Why? The money's still just as useful to the borrower.
The same as the old Meteorswarm, now with fewer posts!

MrConor
Posts: 101
Joined: Sun Jan 02, 2011 10:19 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby MrConor » Sun Mar 13, 2011 3:23 am UTC

  • Invest money in a bank
  • Fly near the speed of light away from Earth, then back again
  • You experience a week or so, the bank experiences say a year
  • So you get loads of interest in a short time (for you)
  • You make no profits, accounting for the price of travelling at light speed for a year.

Ignoring the obvious problem that is the final point (and it's fairly substantial), where else is there a problem? You accrue interest on money in a bank account because the bank is profiting from lending that money to other people. Why would the bank care whether you've only experienced a week of relative time to their year? If anything, the banks should encourage it - it means they get to hold on to your money for longer, since if you'd been on Earth for the same relative-year then you're far more likely to withdraw that money. The only problem would emerge if a large number of people did this and planned to withdraw their money at the same time - which is a problem for any bank, should it occur. A bond with a fixed payout date would be the simplest way to work around such things, however.

If we ever got to a point where the 'profit' you made from interest was greater than the cost of a year of faster than light travel, either the world's economy has moved beyond a point where 'rich' has any meaning to people presently alive (consider modern wealth in terms of energy consumption and compare it to the energy consumption of travel which you can apparently afford as a regular human being in the hypothetical future) or you're already incredibly rich anyway.

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:43 pm UTC

That is an interesting take on things. "Donating" your money to the economy. As your not going to need it in deep sleep/suspension/time travel. However, as said one of the problem is, you could get back less than you invested if the rates are no good, or prices increase.
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

User avatar
bigglesworth
I feel like Biggles should have a title
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:29 pm UTC
Location: Airstrip One

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby bigglesworth » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:46 pm UTC

I have a much better idea. Be the first to do the cryopreservation/relativistic speed thing, then make loads of money on interview, product endorsement and media rights.
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7590
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Zamfir » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:56 pm UTC


Why? The money's still just as useful to the borrower.
If the supply of people willing to lend long term funds goes up and demand for such loans stays the same, the interest you need to pay if you want to borrow goes down.

zmatt
Posts: 554
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby zmatt » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:54 pm UTC

why not use a large mass driver and a capsule large enough to hold just you. Fling said capsule (assuming we have some way to prevent the massive G's from killing you) and at the other end of the trip have another mass driver to send you back to earth. Repeat as many times as necessary.
clockworkmonk wrote:Except for Warren G. Harding. Fuck that guy.

User avatar
Levi
Posts: 1294
Joined: Tue Oct 14, 2008 1:12 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Levi » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:58 pm UTC

I can't remember the name of the book right now, but I read one once where there was a class of people who lived outside of time and facilitated trade between times. So, for example, times with lots of trees could trade with times that had huge industrial complexes.

Would this work at all? It seems like weird things would keep happening, but I can't really wrap my mind around it enough to figure out exactly where everything would go wrong.

User avatar
mmmcannibalism
Posts: 2150
Joined: Tue Jun 30, 2009 6:16 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby mmmcannibalism » Tue Mar 29, 2011 2:45 am UTC

Levi wrote:I can't remember the name of the book right now, but I read one once where there was a class of people who lived outside of time and facilitated trade between times. So, for example, times with lots of trees could trade with times that had huge industrial complexes.

Would this work at all? It seems like weird things would keep happening, but I can't really wrap my mind around it enough to figure out exactly where everything would go wrong.


Besides every time travel paradox possible?
Izawwlgood wrote:I for one would happily live on an island as a fuzzy seal-human.

Oregonaut wrote:Damn fetuses and their terroist plots.

Technical Ben
Posts: 2986
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 10:42 pm UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:42 am UTC

That and you would soon realise your time travelling Sales person seems to have found the exact resource that is missing from that "hole in the ground where the tress use to be". :lol:
It's all physics and stamp collecting.
It's not a particle or a wave. It's just an exchange.

charonme
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 11:18 am UTC

Re: Economics of time travel

Postby charonme » Sun May 22, 2011 7:19 am UTC

governments already use a kind of "time travel" economics: it's called deficit financing (or deficit spending). They "borrow" (effectively tax away) money from our grandchildren (ie. from future economies) and spend them today. Moreover, our grandchildren in the future (will) have the illusion of not missing the "borrowed" money, because they (will) do the same (and in larger quantities) to their grandchildren.


Return to “Fictional Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests