So I just scribbled down some notes on the physical representation of the exval, the Accord on Trade’s exchange currency:
Exval notes are denominated in powers of two, from 20 through 27. Of these, the 1 exval and 2 exval notes bear a line-work drawing of the seal of the Conclave of Galactic Polities, and a stylization of the opening paragraphs of the Accords, respectively, while the 128 exval note bears a similar line-work drawing of the Conclave Drift itself.
The five middle notes, however, the 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 exval notes bear designs representing and selected by the five Presidium powers, although in the same line-work style; and to avoid giving any sense of precedence or priority, which design is applied to which note is rotated for each printing, although the dominant background color is not. (The confusion this causes among visually-oriented users of the exval’s physical currency is widely considered an example, among libertists, of how politics prevents us from having nice things.)
…you can pretty much blame the Leagues for that, incidentally. (The Empire taking the position of “oh, ffs, give us the one, we know that we’re awesome and that this argument is petty”, the Photonic Network having no use at all for physical currency, and the Echelons, while not immune to the lure of this sort of thing, being quite prepared to chill at least to the point of abstaining.)
But the really big political argument at the time was in the League of Meridian, over whether they wanted the sixtyfour (the highest denomination, value- and hence status-wise) or the four (of which there are the most around and thus get your design seen, whereas the sixtyfour is about as rare in use as the $50, or maybe even the $100).
…at least it kept the Senate and Congress of the League Assembled out of trouble for a couple of weeks.
Fictional Currency: First, see Global Currency for the most widespread of these: the Imperial esteyn, the Accord exval, the Rim Free Zone’s ergcred, the universal-if-useless gAu, gAg and gPt, the information-currency finality, and so forth.
Then there are the Empire’s internal currency (for all practical purposes, sets of denominations of the esteyn, but they were independent currencies once): the Cestian bright, the Selenarian imperator, the Veranthyr oakworth, the Cimonië kal, the mechanician-scrip cog, the Melchar pyracie, and so forth.
And the independent currencies of all the various polities of the Worlds and beyond: the Voniensan hourly (which is not, they insist, not a currency), the tennoa reiutil, the codramaju biopoint, the Magen croluyn… and many others as yet undefined.
The first of them is the Empire’s esteyn, acceptable everywhere in it and existing in the interests of internal free trade. It’s a quasi-fiat currency, managed by the Imperial Board of Money and Values to avoid either inflationary or deflationary tendencies to provide a reliable store of exchange-value. It’s acceptable anywhere the Imperial writ runs, in quanta from the micro-esteyn to the mega-esteyn, and is denominated in a truly remarkable range of values as well as its official ones, inasmuch as to simplify the transition, most of the local currencies which formerly existed were redefined as new denominations of the esteyn.
(The management is done on the basis of an energy/cycle index, these days, modified for secular productivity changes due to innovation. It used to be done on the basis of a rather broader basket of commodities, likewise modified, but the advances in nanofacturing and automation technology have thinned it quite considerably, in consequence. Also, while technically it’s done by the IBMV, in practice, in the modern era, most of the day-to-day work is done by a massively-distributed AI which extends itself all through everywhere there is an economy and keeps track of those statistics which it needs to know to make things work.)
The second is the Accord exval, an interstellar exchange currency between and supported by the signatories to the Accord on Trade, and managed by the Conclave and the Galactic Trade Association on their behalf – or rather by their tame AI – to be valued at the real-time floating average value of the currencies of each of the members. (This makes it rather more volatile than the esteyn, both because many members prefer to hide or play silly-bugger games with their actual economic numbers, and because enough of its members are AI-phobic enough that the GTA’s AI is nowhere near as intelligent or self-directing as the Empire’s Fiscal Prime. Some people evidently find it hard to turn control over to a machine that’s smarter than they are.) The exval is not, for the most part, a real currency – it’s money of account and exchange currency, used to optimize cross-polity electronic currency transfers and make it easier to track the real values of foreign-held assets – and to let working spacers and tourists know what the actual prices of things are as they spend (most polities that receive any amount of tourism, and just about all the starports/startowns, dual-label goods in local money and Accord exvals; which one gets the round number and which one floats tends to vary by location).
There are a number of other currencies of general acceptability; the venerable gAu, gAg, and gPt can be traded anywhere, although you need so damn much of them given modern mining technology and its effect on the value of the underlying metals, it’s hardly worth bothering anywhere off Hicksworld. The energy (usually antimatter) backed, fully convertible, ergcred is sometimes seen, especially out towards the Rim Free Zone. A few of the higher-infotech societies out there occasionally talk up the virtues of the finality – and use it between themselves – backed by irreversible computational operations, but have trouble selling it to people of less infogeekery.
As usual, we regret our inability to provide an adequate economic profile of the Empire of the Star, due to the Exchequer’s ongoing decision to not publish detailed economic statistics suitable for external use, continuing to cite former Chancellor Valéran Quendocius-ith-Lirendocius’s comment that “Publishing such things only encourages damn fools to think they ought to do something about them, and no good’s ever come of that.”
Back-calculation from such internal statistics as are available, such as total collections by the Office of the Imperial Revenue and trade statistics provided by major Imperial trade partners, suggests a gross domestic product of the order of 24.4 quintillion esteyn (317.2 quintillion Accord exvals at current exchange rates); equivalent to a per capita GDP of the order of 9.5 million esteyn (123.8 million exvals).
These figures are highly disputed and subject to error. In-house and external economists disagree widely on attributive weights, and appropriate means to model factors including but not limited to the sizes and effects elsewhere of the agalmic, prestative, and reputation economies; the proper attribution of value to and the values of externalities positive and negative, household production, and ecosystem services; the Exchequer’s method of computing ongoing net costs of permanent resource consumption; and the effects of post-scarcity production methods on total factor productivity. Investors are cautioned that such considerations should lead the estimated figures given to be taken as a minimum baseline for comparison; fair-baseline adjusted comparative figures could vary up to 1,000% on the upside, depending upon model selected.
– Investor Watch: State of the Markets, First Exval Bank of Meridian