Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Negative money

Minus five quid!
  (+6, -4)
(+6, -4)
  [vote for,
against]

Coins and banknotes should be issued bearing negative face value. For example, suppose you were at the pub and it was your round, but you had no cash left. Well, the barmaid could pull your drinks and then give you a minus ten pound note. You would be able to pass the note on to a friend who owed you money, or you could take it to the post office or to a bank and hand it over along with a ten pound note, to cancel it out.

Benefits: no need to worry about running out of cash any more.

Disadvantages: open to abuse by the unscrupulous.

pocmloc, Sep 07 2014

'And Then There Were None' by Eric Frank Russell http://www.abelard.org/e-f-russell.php
Already half-baked. See Chapter 3, wherein the concept of 'Obs' ('Obligations') is introduced. [DrBob, Sep 09 2014]

'In Our Time - Negative Numbers' http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p003hyd9
Regular (& highly recommended by me) broadcast about matters of historical interest. [DrBob, Sep 09 2014]

[link]






       A truly Half-Baked idea ...
8th of 7, Sep 07 2014
  

       It's paper debt and could be sold for 3 pounds.
4and20, Sep 07 2014
  

       AKA IOU
popbottle, Sep 07 2014
  

       Are you welcome back at that pub?
cudgel, Sep 07 2014
  

       Do you envision each place minting their own currency (so Joe's Bar -5 are different from Joe's Pizza -5), or would Joe's Bar and Joe's pizza yub their -5 notes from the central government, to which, ultimately, the recipients of the -5 notes would submit payment?   

       I'm in favor of the first, because it creates more jobs for artists. Also, thug credit enforcers. (Maybe there are tracking devices in the -5 notes, so that passing them on becomes a matter of some urgency?)
jutta, Sep 07 2014
  

       //Maybe there are tracking devices in the -5 notes, so that passing them on becomes a matter of some urgency//   

       The long dark teatime of the soul.
Skewed, Sep 07 2014
  

       Letters of demand are well baked, as are third party financial instruments. [-]
Voice, Sep 07 2014
  

       How could anyone resist giving a negative bun for this idea?   

       // financial instruments.   

       Good idea, wall street could send in crack formations of b*gp**e players to Argentina, until they agree to pay the debt.
not_morrison_rm, Sep 08 2014
  

       If this turns out to be a good idea, that would make the notes have positive value, which would make it a bad idea, so...hmm.
nineteenthly, Sep 08 2014
  

       Here we have a similar, informal system known by the phonetic abbreviation "IOU".
However, the note goes in the opposite direction to this proposal, and is signed by the debtor.
  

       I think this idea wouldn't work in practice - even if everyone were honest, they'd get lost, mislaid or forgotten about. There's no incentive to keep them in the system. The dishonest would run up debts and throw them away, or post into letterboxes or charity boxes etc.
Loris, Sep 08 2014
  

       "...Believe me, your creditors with a more fervent devotion will beseech Almighty God to prolong your life, they being of nothing more afraid than that you should die..." Panurge, on why it`s good to be a debtor... little grey cells working, ain`t seen the play in 25 years...
not_morrison_rm, Sep 08 2014
  

       Small denominations could be minted from antimony.
mitxela, Sep 08 2014
  

       I was hoping for a different idea, which would be a way of connecting and systematizing those public goods which arise from people refraining from things. At the moment, the only way we can really have these goods is by imposing rules. There ought to be a more flexible way of getting such public goods, in the same sort of way that a market economy is more flexible than a command economy.   

       I was thinking I would invest negative money in the absence of a resort on an unspoilt island. If it yielded a return, I might eventually be able to bring about the absence of a whole chain of them. I have not posted this, because I have no idea how it could work - but, seeing the title of this idea, I was rather hoping that someone else had cracked it. Pity.
pertinax, Sep 08 2014
  

       In some ways, this is a credit card. With the basic fees on all sides, that's 2% of some economies.
4and20, Sep 08 2014
  

       // I was thinking I would invest negative money in the absence of a resort on an unspoilt island. //   

       Yes, if those carbon footprint charges actually paid for empty seats and empty planes.
4and20, Sep 08 2014
  

       They had these in the board game "Life". I think they called them Promissory Notes, but they were held by the debtor. Sometime in the last 30 years they "updated" the game. I only played the new version once, but I don't think it had these anymore.   

       So this is baked in a board game (where it can work because everyone's wallet is visible), but completely unusable in real life.
scad mientist, Sep 08 2014
  

       //actually paid for empty seats and empty planes   

       Might be having a few more of those if Russia does close its airspace...
not_morrison_rm, Sep 08 2014
  

       Well I am generally in favour of everyone issuing their own currency, but I see these as being issued alongside normal currency and so in the current situation they would be government issue. The government could issue them to people or businesses as part of those people's tax bill.   

       Yes the problem is that you could just burn, eat or lose one on purpose. Tracking devices would help solve that, or a central database recording automatically all transactions. But the thrust of this idea is the combination of the idea of debt (very commonly known to exist, but only in virtual form) and cash (very commonly known to exist, but only in positive form)
pocmloc, Sep 08 2014
  

       Perhaps the person you give it to could sign for it, just like a receipt.
FlyingToaster, Sep 08 2014
  

       What would happen if, for example, you accidentally put a -£5 note through the washing machine, or inadvertently let it get eaten by an okapi?
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2014
  

       As with civets, this only increases the value.
4and20, Sep 08 2014
  

       That makes no sense. Apart from the obvious fact that okapi seldom, if ever, eat civets, there is the inescapable observation that a civet which has passed through an okapi's alimentary canal is unlikely to be in a useable condition.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 08 2014
  

       If A gives B $1, is that the same thing as B giving A $-1?   

       I can see in the first case the value transfers - B has one more dollar than previous. But in the second case it's not as clear.
tatterdemalion, Sep 08 2014
  

       Of course it's bloody clear. In the first case we move from a situation where
Start: A has £1, B has 0
Finish: A has 0, B has £1
Net transfer from A to B: £1
Net transfer from B to A: £-1
  

       In the second case we have
Start: A has 0, B has £-1
Finish: A has £-1, B has 0
Net transfer from B to A: £-1
Net transfer from A to B: £1
pocmloc, Sep 09 2014
  

       I foresee chaos in the streets, as the old, the weak & the slow will be continually mobbed by gangs of unscrupulous debtors who run up & stuff their pockets full of negative cash before scarpering off again.
DrBob, Sep 09 2014
  

       //if, for example, you accidentally put a -£5 note through the washing machine//   

       Logic can help you here. If the washing machine eats a £5 note, then one way of seeing it is that the machine owes you a fiver. You can start poking it with a coathanger in an attempt to get it to pay back.   

       If the machine eats a £-5 note, then you owe it a fiver. If you don't come up with the cash quick it will encourage you to pay up by spewing dirty water all over your scullery floor. Or it will seize your silk stockings as collateral.
pocmloc, Sep 09 2014
  

       What is the value to A in those examples? You can say a net value has been transferred but how is it realized?   

       Say A hires B to mow his lawn for $10. After the lawn is mowed, either A gives B $10, or B gives A $-10. Are these equivalent?   

       In the latter, how does B realize any value from that? B is not going to be able to use his landscaping proceeds to stop at the supermarket and pick up some milk.
tatterdemalion, Sep 09 2014
  

       ^ But, in that particular case, B had previously been given a $10- by C, who he owed $10+ to but hadn't paid.   

       Equivalently B could have taken $10 from A, and paid C.
FlyingToaster, Sep 09 2014
  

       Yes [tats] of course they are equivalent, that is the whole point.   

       £147 minus £5 is the same as £147 plus £-5 I think you will find.
pocmloc, Sep 09 2014
  

       Interesting...if I give 3 of them to a friend, my friend becomes 15 pounds richer*   

       * -3 x -5
4and20, Sep 09 2014
  

       So, if somebody owes you a fiver and is of the "ohyeahIforgotnextweekforsure" variety, you go to the bank and withdraw $5- and give it to him. You've now got the $5. "next week" he can deposit a $5+ and the $5- at the bank... or give it to somebody else that owes him money.   

       ^//my friend becomes 15 pounds richer//   

       If you give 3x $5-'s to your friend then you've moved a $15 debt to them.
FlyingToaster, Sep 09 2014
  

       How do you give someone -3 of a countable object?
pocmloc, Sep 09 2014
  

       pocmloc, have a listen to the 'In Our Time' podcast linked above.
DrBob, Sep 09 2014
  

       [pocmloc] you didn't address my second question. How is the value realized? How does it benefit B to give A $-10? Those funds are not available to him to use for anything.   

       Cash can't work this way. What you're talking about is an IOU, informally a "bill". I can mow your lawn and bill you for it but I expect to receive payment. I don't see how negative money ever results in payment.
tatterdemalion, Sep 09 2014
  

       Of course, this would lead to derivatives, short sells, credit default swaps...
RayfordSteele, Sep 09 2014
  

       Well think how normal +ve cash works. You desire to recieve it, and when you get given a banknote you have purchasing power.   

       Well, -ve cash is the opposite. You desire to give it away, and when you give away a -ve banknote you are relieved of debt obligation and therefore have more purchasing power than before.   

       Thanks for the IoT link {DrB], I listen regularly on the bus but had not come across this one in the archives.
pocmloc, Sep 10 2014
  

       Next up: imaginary money. Spend money in the complex plane. At the end of a transaction, equate real and imaginary parts.
mitxela, Sep 10 2014
  

       pocmloc, I think what you're missing is that noone is questioning the maths.   

       They're trying to point out that there are issues with getting it to work in practice.
If everybody was a) completely trustworthy and b) completely reliable, then it would work. But then, so would communism.
Loris, Sep 10 2014
  

       Oh well in that case, I dealt with those pesky practical objections in the final line of the original idea.
pocmloc, Sep 10 2014
  
      
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