In today’s Exponential Investor:

  • Owls
  • Wages
  • NFTs

It’s been a little while since you’ve heard from me here at Exponential Investor.

I’ve been away, enjoying quality time with my family – who I’d not seen for over two and a half years thanks to the pandemic restrictions.

But, sadly, that time has come to an end. I’ve sent them back to Australia on the plane, and I’m now back on deck writing to you.

While I was on leave, we did a few fun things around the country.

A trip to Warwick Castle was a highlight. The falconry show there is absolutely breathtaking.

We also headed into Central London to the British Museum. I will (ashamedly) admit that, after almost nine years living in the UK, this was my first visit.

It, too, is wonderful, and highly educational, as you’d expect.

While I have some knowledge of ancient history – the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, ancient Middle East, China, etc – there’s still a vast amount I don’t know.

It makes you think about the world you live in today; the trials and tribulations, and the relatively short periods of time these actually last.

As we left the museum’s south entrance forecourt, and headed down towards Drury Lane, we stepped into the oldest licensed premises in London, The White Hart, for a drink.

I sat there with a pint of Timothy Taylor’s “Landlord” ale, watching Emma Raducanu battle her way through her first-round match at Wimbledon, thinking about all the things I’d just seen.

What I also found really interesting is that visiting somewhere like the British Museum also puts a lot of things into perspective. Three things, in particular, that really caught my attention at the museum gave me a more objective view of a lot of the issues we face economically and financially today.

Owls

The first was that in one of the early halls, I saw a display that showed some of the world’s first coins.

Source: editor’s own photo

This picture shows some of the world’s earliest coins. They are about 2,570 years old. That alone is quite something to consider.

Try thinking about what you did ten years ago feels a lifetime away. Now just try and imagine thousands of years. Yet, here, in 550 BC, coins were being minted.

You’d think that it would be almost impossible to imagine how crazy these must have seemed at the time.

Small, round metallic things created to represent value exchange. An owl picture actually representing value that can be exchanged for goods or service.

I’m sure these coins would have met with a lot of criticism at the time. This new coin technology would have seemed worthless to many.

But history shows us that they were the earliest beginnings of a monetary system we’re very much used to thousands of years later.

Wild…

Inflation sucks

A bit further through the various exhibitions was a section on Romans in Britain. With many fascinating displays, it was the one below that caught my eye.

Known as the “Bredgar Hoard”, it’s a collection of 37 roman coins (aurei) from around 41 AD… only about 1,981 years ago.

Source: editor’s own photo

Impressive as these may appear, what I found most fascinating is that this “hoard” represents around four years of wages for a legionary solider.

Four. Years.

At the time, that wouldn’t have seemed unusual at all. It wouldn’t have made the soldier wealthy, but it was certainly enough to not make him poor, either.

Today, it’s crazy to think of such a small amount of anything representing years of wages.

As unions around the country take militant action to demand inflation-matching pay increases for their members, we’re reminded that inflation isn’t necessarily a good thing. In fact, it’s a wealth-eroding financial construct, intentionally designed to artificially manipulate growth and give central banks a reason to exist.

It pushes wider class divides and favours asset owners and hoarders.

Inflation is a wealth killer. Whether you’re a solider or a modern-day transport worker, the reason for these troubles isn’t your employer… it’s the central bank and governments’ monetary and fiscal policies.

Old tech to new

I’ve got a quite a gallery of photos from our trip to the British Museum, and many other takeaways that gave me pause for thought.

But one thing I noticed along many of the exhibitions was the use of the word “technology”.

It may seem out of place to be looking at artifacts from thousands of years ago and discussing technology but, at the time, many of these things that were new and ground breaking were indeed new technologies.

Back then, the introduction of these things, be it coins, or new kinds of weaponry, or transport ideas, or architecture and construction would have been met with opposition and fear.

But, over time, they would become a regular part of everyday culture, going on to become historic points in our world’s development.

The same thing can be said today.

In one room, we saw the mummified remains of a man who today would be around five thousand years old.

I said to my dad “In another five thousand years, will a bunch of people from around the world be looking at my mummified remains astonished at our relatively ‘primitive’ society today?”

Probably.

Today is simply tomorrow’s history lesson.

And what might seem outlandish today as a new technology or way of exchanging transacting value in society, could just be a part of everyday culture in the future.

This was certainly front and centre as we walked into the entrance of the museum to be greeted by the museum’s non-fungible token (NFT) pop-up shop.

Source: editor’s own photo

Right now, things like bitcoin, cryptocurrency, NFTs, digital identities, tokenised assets, decentralised finance (DeFi), might all seem strange, worthless and generate a lot of fear.

But when you put the way in which our world transforms over time into perspective, it’s also fair to think they might just be the next technology wave in our history…

That in another thousand (or two) years’ time, in Hall 150, there will be a new “digital money” exhibition with the early artifacts from the introduction worldwide of the first digital coins.

Our world is always changing. At some point on your journey, you could be fortunate enough to find yourself at the crux of one of history’s extraordinary moments.  

In the short term, things might seem hopeless and terrifying, as though there’s no end in sight. But the truth is that we always move through trials and tribulations and come out the other end a better society.

Those that seize the opportunities offered up during these historic moments are better off for it in the long run. Don’t let such moments in life pass you by.

Regards,

Sam Volkering
Editor, Exponential Investor