Cash in crisis: Mobilizing agents in post-earthquake Haiti

Crisis is often linked to reductions in circulation of one sort or another. Economic crisis, such as the GFC, involves the slowing down of circulation of monetary value. Political crises, such as the recent shutdown of the US congress, see procedures of governance and statehood come to a halt. And human crises often prompt changes in circulation, such as displacement due to a natural disaster, or long stays in refugee camps.

In times of crisis, then, things that compel circulation are especially useful. Bailouts, negotiations, passports, and buses are all mobilizing agents that can help get things moving along desirable paths.

Mobile phones and cash are two particularly powerful mobilizing agents. Not only do they move themselves, they help other things overcome crucial barriers to circulation. Mobile phones permit instant communication and coordination of the movement of people, commodities, and cash. Cash simplifies the process of transferring ownership of goods by making everything quantifiable and fungible. Both the mobile phone and cash store and transfer value, increasing control and mitigating risk for the people who hold them.

Read the rest of this story on the IMTFI Blog.