Professor David Hawkes of Arizona State University explains in a recent article how literary and dramatic works of the early modern period in Europe, 400 or 500 years ago, express the economic anxieties of the time: an age when capitalism was in its infancy. In this era there was a widening discrepancy between the "worth" of an object (based on its inherent qualities and its uses) and its "value" as a commodity (how much it can fetch on the market, often based on external factors). Karl Marx later drew on this distinction in his famous critique of capital, comparing "use-value" to "exchange-value". From there, via a few centuries of imaginative banking experimentation and the replacement of assets with access to credit as the measure of wealth, it’s a hop, skip and jump to derivatives and futures trading. From a certain point in history — 2008, say — there has no longer been a connection between worth and value. Money (itself a symbolic representation) has become "hypermoney, metamo...

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