Time and Money


Family time:

Many informal obligations between people involve time. Parents provide for children when they are young, and children owe them support when they are old. This is a form of inter-temporal exchange. In tribal societies there are many informal obligations to the extended family, which provide for inter-temporal exchange or insurance against misfortune. But money, science and institutional stability have hugely increased the scope and complexities of our relations with the future.

Control the future

Money permits us to have a future we strive to control.

We strive to reduce uncertainty in our lives. Life is unliveable if we act and reason in a manner wholly consistent with the truth of how little we know. The future is particularly uncertain, and fraught with risk. Money is the means by which we try to control it. But this property is also paradoxical: human beings crave certainty, but are excited by risk. Money fulfils this desire benignly through inventive and experimental risk-taking, but also facilitates leveraged gambling. Surprisingly, it is this relationship to uncertainty and risk that money shares with religion. Religion also seeks to satisfy these desires. At times it provides the promise of certainty about our purpose or future, but it also pursues the intrinsic appeal of mystery and risk-taking.

The theme of time and money is discussed in more detail in Eric Lonergan’s book, Money (Acumen Publishing)

Also recommended:
Billari, F. & V. Galasso 2009. “What explains fertility? Evidence from Italian pension reforms”. Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) discussion paper DP7014.

Parfit, D. “An interview with Derek Parfit”, Cogito, vol. 9, 1995, pp. 115-125.

Pronin, E. “Doing unto future selves as you would do unto others: psychological distance and decision making”.

Pronin, E. (2008). “How we see ourselves and how we see others”. Science, 320, 1177-1180.

About The Author

Eric Lonergan is a macro hedge fund manager, economist, and writer. His most recent book is Supercharge Me, co-authored with Corinne Sawers. He is also author of the international bestseller, Angrynomics, co-written with Mark Blyth, and published by Agenda. It was listed on the Financial Times must reads for Summer 2020. Prior to Angrynomics, he has written Money (2nd ed) published by Routledge. He has written for Foreign AffairsThe Financial Times, and The Economist. He also advises governments and policymakers. He first advocated expanding the tools of central banks to including cash transfers to households in the Financial Times in 2002. In December 2008, he advocated the policy as the most efficient way out of recession post-financial crisis, contributing to a growing debate over the need for ‘helicopter money’.

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