“I think it’s wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly”*…
The game Monopoly was created in the early 1930s as “The Landlord Game” by a Quaker anxious to illuminate the dangers of unbridled acquisitiveness. But by 1935, when it was acquired by Parker Bros., it had been copied, re-titled, and remade into the paean to aspirational capitalism that’s been a huge success ever since.
But times have changed; the methods of wealth accumulation have morphed… and now there is a new set of rules to reflect this new reality.
It would be hard to simplify capitalism further than Monopoly. The game attempts to express the ruthlessness of raw capitalism by declaring that whoever has the most money at the “end” is the winner. While it’s true our culture proclaims the rich as our greatest heroes, the method of financial gain in Monopoly is not a system that allows for any creativity. Roll the dice, buy a property, pay rent, pass go, and collect $200. Repeat.
Simple models have long been used to help understand complex ideas. With a few small changes Monopoly can be a space where we can play at being in control of the economic system. All it takes is a few new rules.
Rule Change #1: The Banker
In the original rules the role of the banker is simply a chore–the board game equivalent of taking out the trash. But in real life the banker is no passive entity. The banker is the center of the universe.
The Libor scandal, the UBS money laundering scandal, the SAC Capital scandal, FINRA suing Wells Fargo and Bank of America, TD Bank paying to settle charges of a ponzi scheme, Galleon Group’s insider trading scandal. This list could go on. The point is that banking is
The role of the banker is special. The banker should have no piece on the Monopoly board, but this person is in charge of the bank’s money. The success of the banker is judged the same as any other player: Whoever accumulates the most wealth is the winner. Of course, as in life, the banker has some advantages (like control of all the money)…
Read the rest of the new rules at “Rethinking the game of Monopoly“… then roll the dice.
Playing this version of Monopoly won’t help you understand the details of a banking scandal. But you’ll have experience with a simplified model of the financial system that generates regular “scandals.” A game where arguing and backstabbing are part of the rules and the winner is hard to determine. This simple model recreates the same results found in the real world.
* Stephen Wright
As we wonder why no one’s done time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1882 that the San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange was formed; it later merged with with Los Angeles Oil Exchange to become the Pacific Stock Exchange. In 1999 it became the first stock exchange in the U.S. to demutualize, and in 2003, closed its trading floors and went to electronic transactions. The PSX, as it was known, merged into the New York Stock Exchange in 2006.