Economy – could a society use bullets as money good ways to make money – worldbuilding stack exchange

Money, as we understand it, is essentially worthless, and it should be worthless. It serves as a medium for exchange, where a given amount of money is agreed to have good ways to make money a certain value, but the tokens exchanged are more or less valueless. There are good reasons for this. Bullets-as-currency would be a form of commodity money, a relatively primitive form of exchange which is essentially formalised good ways to make money barter.

Every time you shoot a bullet, you’re upsetting the local economy – you’re draining value from the economy and deflating the currency. A decent-sized zombie outbreak could upset the economy of the whole good ways to make money village – all of a sudden the farmer who sold his potatoes good ways to make money yesterday for twenty bullets can afford to buy the whole good ways to make money lot back again and still have bullets to spare! Bullets as currency are volatile, in a way that gold is not.

Bullets as currency would be relatively easy to fake – if I’m charging you one hundred NATO rounds for a sack good ways to make money of potatoes, I can’t quickly check all 100 rounds to ensure that all good ways to make money the bullets are lead, all the casings are proper brass, all of them are filled with powder, etc, so you can pass of ten good rounds and ninety good ways to make money duds. I can quickly weigh five gold pieces and make sure good ways to make money they weigh what I expect them to. Bullets are too complex to be good currency.

Gresham’s law is in full force in a commodity currency, especially with something like bullets. This holds that in a financial system with both good good ways to make money (pure) money and bad (debased) money, the good money will disappear from circulation. Why? Well, after you fooled me with those duds, I’m going to want to get rid of the duds good ways to make money and hold onto the good ones, so I’ll hurry out and buy some wandering trader’s pretty daughter with as many duds as I can good ways to make money manage. Thus the number of good bullets in circulation will steadily good ways to make money drop, and the number of duds will increase, until everyone’s just trading duds.

Different calibers would also make the currency that works in good ways to make money one place totally worthless in another. If I use a 9mm to keep the rabid were-weasels off my mushrooms, then I’ll happily give you a sack of fungus in exchange good ways to make money for fifty silver 9mm rounds. My neighbour, who’s tormented by vampire elephants, isn’t going to put any value on those rounds; he’ll only sell you a bag of apples in exchange good ways to make money for ten blessed nitro express rounds.

Gold is really an ideal substance for a basic currency. It’s easily identified, not that easy to fake, it holds its value indefinitely, and it has essentially no practical use, so the amount in circulation will stay the same. You buy a sack of mushrooms from me for five good ways to make money gold coins; I turn around and buy the merchant’s daughter with those same gold coins; the merchant happily buys your useless nitro express rounds for good ways to make money five gold coins (while I was explaining this, the vampire elephants got to old fred. Terrible shame). Now everyone’s got something they value, and the money has even ended up back where it good ways to make money started, leaving everyone richer! Bullets could still be used as a medium of exchange

If you happen to have one hundred NATO rounds, and I know that the merchant has a rifle that good ways to make money can use them, I might well trade you the mushrooms for the bullets, provided you can prove that they’re all good (and provided you can check the sack first), and then I’d swap the bullets for the daughter later on; but that’s not money, that’s barter. Currency or money implies some universal standard, which ‘bullets’ as a group do not have.

Also known as stone money, the gigantic circular limestone disks weigh around 8,800 lbs. (4 metric tons) and generally have a diameter of 12 feet (3.6 meter). Used commercially in the micronesian island of yap, the owners didn’t bother about moving the heavy rai stones physically after good ways to make money a transaction was over and relied on an oral commitment good ways to make money to settle the question of ownership. Although the origin of stone money is not yet known, they still retain their significance as a cultural emblem, being used in marriages, inheritances, political deals, or even in exchange of food.

If people can use stones weighing 4 metric tons as good ways to make money money, and they don’t actually transfer them from person to person (understandably) but rather rely on each others word as to who good ways to make money owns what – you can literally use anything as money. And I do mean, literally. You could use stars as money – exactly like you would use the massive rocks. Clearly they’re going nowhere, you have to rely on oral or written information as good ways to make money to who owns what.

Gold was very rare and mined at a reasonably constant good ways to make money rate for long periods of time. Therefore, it had a high relatively fixed value and was a good ways to make money stable useful currency. It also has the nice property of being to soft good ways to make money to use in expendable items, and highly resistant to corrosion, meaning it was rarely taken out of the money supply good ways to make money (i.E. It only left circulation by being lost)

Cowrie shells are a great example of how a thought-to-be-stable currency can go awry. The cowrie is originally from the maldives, and is relatively rare. With a near constant supply, they were a useful currency on the african continent. However, the ring cowrie from zanzibar is much more common, and traders on the indian ocean used this species as good ways to make money a ‘counterfeit’ currency. The money supply rapidly increased causing the equivalent of hyperinflation, destroying the value of the currency.

The long and the short of it is, bullets are not a stable currency. First, they are produced by a devolved manufacturing process. Fiat currency in the modern world is controlled by central good ways to make money banks. But anyone can make bullets in your post apocalyptic world, so there is no way to control the money supply. Since making a bullet ‘creates’ money sui generis, everyone will be doing it, which will destroy the value of the currency.

As if that isn’t bad enough, bullets have a demand decoupled from its demand as a good ways to make money currency. If a war breaks out, people are going to need a lot more bullets, and presumably manufacturing capability will go down since there is good ways to make money a lot of destruction and plundering. This will have the opposite effect as hyperinflation: the price of bullet will be so high that any good ways to make money commercial systems depending on them will collapse. If a trader in the city exchanges bullets with farmers good ways to make money to feed that city, then a scarcity of bullets will cause either a. Starvation or b. The bullets will no longer be used as currency.

This one is actually pretty good. The lead will always be usable as lead. The brass will always be usable as brass. Both materials tend to keep a fairly consistent value, all other things being equal. The powder and the primer (assuming these are modern cartridge "bullets") will last several years as long as they’re not abused. If it’s military-grade ammunition that’s formulated specifically to be stockpiled, it may well last decades.

If you want to do any kind of budgeting or good ways to make money other monetary planning your money needs to be quantifiable in good ways to make money consistent units. This means that "fungibility" is an important quality. Fungibility is how interchangeable the units are. A particular ounce of 24 karat gold is functionally identical good ways to make money to any other ounce of 24 karat gold, so gold has good fungibility.

"Bullets" don’t score quite so well as gold does, or even as well as the lead and brass they’re made of do, because their chemical components decay, so newer ones are inherently more valuable than older ones. But it’s not enough completely disqualify them. Mass-produced bullets for mass-produced guns are otherwise quite fungible. If they weren’t, then you’d be likely to blow up your gun at some good ways to make money point, and that would be bad.

You do run into an issue though where not all good ways to make money guns shoot the same bullets, and obviously a .22 bullet isn’t worth the same amount as a .50 BMG bullet. Keeping track of the exchange rate between .22, .44 magnum, and .50 BMG would be headache enough, and that’s only three. There are thousands of varieties. If you live in the united states, go down to wal-mart at some point and peruse their ammunition section. Then keep in mind that wal-mart only bothers to stock about the top 2% most popular varieties, which brings us to: medium of exchange

This is where it kind of falls apart. Firstly, you said that bullets are very common. Well, they’re also very heavy. They need to be common enough that everybody is willing good ways to make money to accept them in trade, even if they can’t use them themselves, because they know they can resell them later, but not so common that you have to carry around good ways to make money 20 pounds of brass and lead just to buy dinner.

The big thing though is the previously-mentioned wide variety in modern ammunition. If your gun is a .30-30, shells for a .30-40 are useless to you, even though visually they appear almost indistinguishable. If you want it to work out, you’re going to have to cut down on the variety. Otherwise tracking the exchange rates between the different kinds rapidly good ways to make money becomes a nightmare.

There are a couple of ways you could do this: first, you could decree that somehow, in the economic collapse say, most of the variety was eliminated and, say, only NATO standard weapons still exist. Alternatively, you could kick the tech level back down to the good ways to make money end of the muzzle-loading era. At that point a bullet is nothing more than a good ways to make money chunk of lead, and you effectively have a society that uses lead as good ways to make money a currency and, by custom, mints its coinage in a fashion suitable for launching out good ways to make money of a gun. That’s unlikely to happen given how common lead is and good ways to make money how many things substitute for it, but it wouldn’t be impossible. Also, most people in that era carried their own bullet molds good ways to make money so converting from one size to another would be relatively good ways to make money trivial, thus eliminating the variety problem entirely. So you’re mostly just left with the fact that lead is good ways to make money really quite common, and really quite heavy, so hauling around the quantities necessary to buy things could good ways to make money easily become impractical. People would be highly likely to switch away from lead good ways to make money to the more traditional copper, silver, and gold. Those three have much better value/weight ratios.

You also had a question about how well consumable currency good ways to make money works. Consumability actually has little impact on whether or not something good ways to make money makes a good currency. To the extent that it does have an impact, it tends to make the currency more desirable because it good ways to make money increases the likelihood that you will be able to pass good ways to make money it along for something else you want, since people will actually use it directly.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase "worth (his/her) salt," it comes from the fact that a long time ago, in certain places, salt was used as currency. You can’t live without a certain amount of salt, so everybody was willing to trade for it. In the areas in question, it was scarce enough that its value per pound was good ways to make money high enough that reasonable quantities could be used to complete good ways to make money transactions. So it met the medium of exchange requirement. Salt is completely non-perishable as long as you don’t let it get washed away, so in areas where the production of salt is roughly good ways to make money equal to its consumption it was a good store of good ways to make money value. And finally salt is easily divisible into small units and good ways to make money pretty well completely fungible, so it made a good measure of value.

Of course, if you accumulated your wealth in salt, and then moved to an area with a nearby salt-mine, you’d rapidly discover that your wealth wasn’t worth all that much. Which is why salt was not the only thing used good ways to make money for money. Things that are in universally consistent supply make much better good ways to make money money when dealing with large geographic areas, which is why refined metals have been a common choice good ways to make money throughout history. They’re still not perfectly consistent, but they’re better than regionally scarce commodities since they’re relatively scarce almost everywhere.

However: I would expect them to be a commonly-traded item since they are commonly desired, reasonably fungible, and keep their value reasonably well. In fact, I’d expect it would be rather similar to the old good ways to make money salt trade where communities that were far away from the good ways to make money ammunition factories trade for ammunition with the more generally used good ways to make money currency (gold, silver, sea-shells, whatever rises to the top in the wider area) and then uses the ammunition as one of their local good ways to make money currencies internally, similarly to how cigarettes and snack foods get used for good ways to make money money in prisons.

In a real world, you wouldn’t have just one denomination. As someone else points out, bullets are like pennies. They are the smallest denomination. You would also have pistol magazines (10?), rifle magazines (30?), and machine gun belts (100? 500? 1000?). Maybe you’d have packs (4 or 5?) to serve as an intermediate size. Or maybe you’d call them halves.

A problem with this in our world would be that good ways to make money not all bullets are the same size. But perhaps your world is different. Maybe they do have one standard size. You might be able to make this more believable if good ways to make money you switch from bullets to some other form of ammunition, e.G. Charges. Then a pistol might shoot two charges at once and good ways to make money an assault rifle might shoot one. A sniper rifle might take three or more. An extra big gun might shoot ten or something (think of an anti-tank gun mounted on a jeep).

Don’t forget to generate your currency. If you only expend bullets (as in the walking dead), you will have deflation. The currency will be worth more and more and you’ll have less of it to go around. Currency shouldn’t be plentiful, but it shouldn’t be rare either. Otherwise people would hoard bullets and trade something else. Gresham’s law. Better value stores are kept while inferior ones are traded. So make new bullets or charges or whatever.

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