In the dawn of 2030


img_6145Closing the 10th edition of the Mediterranean Economic Week, Pop Finance invited final day participants to cast their minds forward and imagine what the world of finance will look like in the year 2030. Organised under the “Finance Fiction” banner, a total of 7 guests fueled the discussion with their ideas, assumptions and economic hypotheses.

Somewhat paradoxically given the day’s theme, the introductory session took a look back over our history, with a performances from Californian singer Sarah Quintanta and Marseille accordianist Christophe Lampidecca. Enveloped in the duo’s bluesy-jazz vibe, participants might have felt that were in a 1950s New York club rather than in 2030. That said, though Sarah Quintana may draw inspiration from the past, her future is firmly rooted in the modern age. Having launched her first two albums via crowdfunding, the American singer is now involved in a third new venture, “Kiss Kiss Bank Bank”, as she continues to move her career forward.

Comedians, journalists, writers and academics were all invited to give their thoughts on what the economic future might hold. Kicking off the presentations, Emmanuel Delannoy, director of the Inspire institute, painted a picture of an economy in which nature and bio-diversity would exist and cohabit with the concept of wealth creation.  His ideal scenario revolved around the preservation of nature and the world around us. In order to achieve this, humanity must rediscover its self-confidence. “It is the role of mankind to be the master of nature”, he said, re-iterating the suggestion of Réné Descartes. “Today, we must not attempt to possess nature, but rather live with it and not try to control the biosphere.” Symbolising his vision of the “Perma-economy”, he foresaw a re-investment of wealth and human and economic capital. The idea follows on from permaculture, a farming practice that produces human wealth but also enriches nature. In order to achieve this, “we must be able to trust in one another”, he explains. This type of economy already exists, but its future remains fragile as a result of the lack of trust between financial institutions and the general population.

Starting from scratch: a possible solution 

Given the faultls in our existing financial systems, Gabriel Colletis, professor of economics at the University of Toulouse, wishes  to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, citing as an example the failure to manage the crisis in Greece. His participation-based system would allow the creation of a totally new model for development. To make this happen, Colletis recommends several measures including allowing work to reclaim its rightful place at the centre of the economy, and bases his vision on the idea of energy consumption and environmental protection being the two main preoccupations of the new economy. Making up for lost time will involve improved use of community economies; this type of system will allow a re-casting of the financial model, which will serve to support, rather than preside over, a country’s development and wealth creation. On a day that began with a focus on crowd funding, there are certainly similarities to be found between these two economic models. The underlying fabric of this digital revolution would require society to enter a new level of participative democracy.

Our current system of paper money could soon be abolished. During a lucid and highly educational presentation Dr Cécile Monteil set out her vision of a future in which blockchain and bitcoin would play a central role. Blockchain enables users to exchange data, programs and money via a highly encrypted program in which every modification is completely transparent. Blockchain is fast, public and indestructable, preventing corruption and misuse and facilitating international exchange. The only drawbacks being that the population is not yet trained to use the service, and that not every country has sufficient digital access, leading to a divide between those who can and cannot use blockchain.

Making culture work for the economy 

An integral part of our society, culture also occupies a key status in our economy. Cultural events are sometimes free, in order to guarantee access for as many people as possible, or excessively expensive in order to ensure top-quality offerings. In this context, journalist Phillipe Astor offered his views on possible future changes in the music industry over the coming years. Like Dr. Monteil, the journalist from Canal+ also focused on blockchain. Constantly aiming to improve efficiency, blockchain is a way for the music world to ensure that everyone receives fair payment for their contribution to a song or composition. Moreover, it allows labels to compile reliable databases containing the most minute details possible. Finally, the black market is a major thorn in the side of today’s music industry.  With blockchain, it will be possible to verify and control ticket sales and combat illegal downloads.

Of course, the economy is not only envisaged in terms of statistical forecasts or graphical representations. The economy writes and reads itself. This is what sci-fi writer Norbert Merjagnan attempted to convey as he unveiled his character Vera Karienka. Merjagnan plunges us into the world in 2056, a world which has taken note of the mistakes of the past and curbed financial trenches; the character, who would be 16 years old today, thinks up a more positive way to use money. While traditional money favours a small number of people, positive money (or “pixel”) increases or decreases in value in proportion to the individuals who use it. If ten people use the money to invest in something, it is worth ten times as much; and, on the contrary, if only one person uses it, it loses value. Based on the idea of cooperation between individuals, Vera Karienka’s money system never took off: everything was in place but the people were not ready to use it, leading to a sad ending for the fictional girl who ends up being kidnapped in Mexico.

The event was rounded off by making reference to the comedian Christophe Alévêque. Turning his sharp wit to politics, he gave an uncompromised view of the news, bankers, the President’s performance and, of course, the internet. In an auditorium shaking with laughter, the 10th edition of the SEM finished on an optimistic note, taking note of current problems and existing solutions that could help improve our financial system. In order to create a more prosperous future, society must be in agreement, thinking not only about inherent needs and the benefits produced by finance, but also the individuals within the system.