Special thanks to Ollie and Anna for organizing an amazing evening, and to Laurie Penny, Nick Dearden and John Hilary. Â
Iâ€™m a writer of fiction. Itâ€™s fair to wonder why Iâ€™m here. Iâ€™m the last person who should be standing here talking about a book about real tragedies and economics. I come from a world where even the signposts are fictional. Follow the white rabbit. Second star to the right and straight on â€˜til morning. And a more recent one, from forty years ago, the fictional direction given by a mysterious man to an eager journalist: follow the money.
Economics is an artform. Itâ€™s the art of the invisible. Money is fictional.
The folding cash in your pocket isnâ€™t real. Look at it. Itâ€™s a promissory note. â€œI promise to pay the bearer.â€ Itâ€™s a little story, a fiction that claims your cash can be redeemed for the equivalent in goods or gold. But it wonâ€™t be, because there isnâ€™t enough gold to go around. So youâ€™re told that your cash is â€œlegal tender,â€ which means that everyone agrees to pretend itâ€™s like money. If everyone in this room went to The Bank Of England tomorrow and said â€œI would like you to redeem all my cash for gold, right here, in my handâ€ I guarantee you that you all would see some perfect expressions of stark fucking terror.