Money is everywhere
Recently, someone asked me why AU students should be interested in my blog. Business is a good topic, my friend said, but why should anyone outside the Kogod School of Business care? The answer, I tell them, is that business affects human interaction like few other factors in society do.
All business is connected. We talk of the world’s environment as one system, where a coal plant in China harms the earth like a similar coal plant in Ohio would. Business has the same level of interconnectedness. Money travels like ocean currents, covering vast distances in short amounts of time. Governments can dam the flow of money like they can with water, but this merely slows down its flow; it does not stop it. Like water, its flow is either life sustaining or damaging. Too much at once, and we may become decadent or greedy. Too little, and we die.
Think of the world and its many time zones, and this flow becomes clear. When it’s midnight on Friday in Washington D.C., in Tokyo, a research team finished scarfing down lunch, and is working on its next videogame console. Across town, the Tokyo Stock Exchange shuffles money across Asia, determining the value of firms like Toyota and Sony.
In Shanghai, dockhands are loading a freighter bound for America, paid for by an import-export bank in San Francisco. The cargo of mini refrigerators will be sold across the U.S., and maybe even go into your dorm room. When you buy the fridge, they will be sleeping in Shanghai, and they will load another freighter to the U.S. when they wake up.
Money flows constantly. Leonard Read’s essay “I, Pencil,” shows the flow of money through the production process, as told by the humble pencil. A pencil requires many parts, including wood, graphite, varnish and a factory to assemble the parts. Each layer of production works together only because money flows through them. The flow of money is not something many contemplate, yet involves a fascinating story at each end. Those are the stories I wish to tell. No matter how disparate they seem, they ultimately affect every one of us.
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