Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This is pretty fascinating. Shit is scary these days. I don't know where I stand with money, so I'm being careful. I just stash away any money I can, especially because recent conversations lead me to believe I'll be jobless soon.

Anyway, I got the below email from a fellow who is an excellent nonfiction writer and indie newspaper publisher. (He gave me permission to post it.) Intrigued but not sure what to make of it and not inclined to part with $100. You can, though...

Matt Schwartz Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 1:42 PM
To: Nick Antosca
Hey Nick,

I thought you might be into this bank project, an art experiment that
I'm doing with a couple of friends where we borrow money from friends
and then lend it out at zero interest. Details below and please do
holler if you would like to transact.




Dear Friend,

We're starting a bank, and we'd like you to be a part of it. What we
mean is, we'd like you to lend us a little bit of your money--one
hundred dollars, for about a year. In gratitude, we'll give you a
lovely screenprinted promissory note which legally binds us to pay you
back, and maybe some other goodies as well.

Our bank is called "The Bank of Ink and Ledger." As you've probably
gathered, it is not a traditional bank. We don't have branches,
tellers, or vaults, and we don't have any kind of official backing.
The Bank of Ink and Ledger is more like the informal saving societies
that immigrants organized in the late 19th century. It's a tool for
capital to move around inside a loosely-bound community of trust.

Here's how it works: We're hoping that you'll be one of a few dozen
friends who are willing to lend us $100 for a little more than a year.
Each lender will get a promissory note, a legal IOU. In April 2010,
we'll cancel the notes and return your money. Between now and then,
we'll lend our pot of money out at zero interest to trustworthy
people, the same terms that it's been lent to us.

So our plan is to borrow money from you, and then loan it out again.
The loan you make to us is essentially the same as one of us coming up
to you and asking to borrow $100. We're backing the loan with our good
names. If you know us, we hope you'll know that you'll get your $100
back on time. The loans that we're going to make will have more risk.
Our goal is to find borrowers who are deserving and trustworthy, but
some may still default. If this happens, we'll go into our own pockets
to pay you back. No matter what, you'll get your $100 back on time.

That leaves the question of what's in it for you, the lender. Sure,
you get your $100 back, but what else? Our answer: You get a few
things. 1. A cancelled screenprinted note, which is hopefully worth
the three or four dollars in interest that your $100 would collect in
an ordinary bank. 2. You will have some say (if you want it) in the
administration of the bank and how our money is lent out. 3. If the
project goes well, you *might* get some kind of gratuity. This might
take the form of money or some other form of consideration. 4. You'll
have first dibs on all future promissory note issues.

Thanks for reading this. We've never done this before, and we'd love
to hear your thoughts and suggestions. If you have any questions, or
if you think you might be interested in lending to us, write back and
we'll take things from there.


Jesse Goldstein
Eliza Newman-Saul
Mattathias Schwartz