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The cosmic brokers

Mon 26 Nov 2001 by mskala Tags used: ,

Einstein taught us that space and time can be considered equivalent, and the Gilbreths taught us that time and money are similarly connected. Money, by definition, can be used to buy matter and energy, and those things can also be sold for money. These relationships form a sort of skeleton, technically what graph theorists call a "spanning tree", among the five elements of space, time, money, matter, and energy. The existence of a spanning tree, with the transitivity of the equivalence relation, implies a complete graph, with all vertices adjacent to each other. Each of of the Five can be exchanged for any other, and in a perfectly efficient economy, that would be the end of it all.

But the cosmic economy is not perfectly efficient. Distances in space impede our ability to exchange energy (work) for money. Lack of money prevents us from building up matter (possessions) over time. And so on. Every inefficiency in the economy, every line in the diagram where value can be lost, implies the existence of a being to profit from that inefficiency. There are ten major cosmic brokers, each mediating the exchange between two markets, and in the shadow of each walks an assistant who keeps watch on the other three markets for any developments affecting his master's interests.

Place the trading floor of the Money market somewhere near the constellation Libra, perhaps a little to the North of there. The locations of the other trading floors fall out naturally in four-dimensional space from there, in a pattern as symmetrical and isotropic as a three-dimensional tetrahedron. Of course, "trading floor" is a metaphoric description. It might be more descriptive of what occurs there to call it a "dance floor", but the word "floor" is still a problem, because they did not construct a building in which to do the things they do. To construct a building would necessarily place inappropriate stress on the commodities of Space and Matter, and to say that they "did" something would drag Time into the question as well. The markets have no Time, Space, or Matter except that which is traded within.

Indeed, the nature of the markets is hard to describe in limited human words. We cannot help but think of sales for money, purchases of matter, energy spent, and a location in space and a temporal sequence for everything. But the cosmic brokers would never soil their hands with such things directly. They operate on the universal commodities in purely abstract terms, and usually behind several layers of risky and profitable derivatives. Human-operated markets have rules against building derivatives on top of derivatives for too many layers, but the cosmic brokers are answerable to no securities commission, and the underlying equations are continuous and infinitely differentiable, in both theory and practice.

To place an order with the cosmic brokers, you must first learn their language. If you want to go {short,large,later,sessile,heavy} on an energy-to-space option, well, you must know the word for that; and the 31 other words used to describe general market directions in the brokers' language. Unlike the stock markets of Earth, the prices are five-dimensional. You must learn the mathematics - the PDEs used to compute pricing as the market fluctuates, and the four-way hypercross product fundamental to prediction and cost averaging. Worst of all, you must face the fact that with money and time as flexible as any other commodities, all the strategies you learned in your linear school have become childishly naive. The cosmic brokers have no time to teach you the ropes and the wires of universal balance; you must learn it all by trial and error.

Until you are an expert, it is highly inadvisable to deal with the cosmic brokers on margin.


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