09 June 2016

Metrics for World Peace Bonds

Metrics for World Peace Bonds, or: Why Long-term Goals are Best

Pondering the best metrics for peace, I came to think that with a goal for peace sustained over fifty or more years, metrics that target for elimination the use of deadly violence become more closely aligned with what we actually want to achieve. By this I mean that, with a decades-long goal, bondholders would have incentives not merely to prevent the outbreak of violence, but also to prevent the precursors to violence. From the point of view of the backers and issuers of World Peace Bonds this makes the metric of deadly violence more robust.

For example: the Cold War ended peacefully, but if World Peace Bonds issued in the year 1950 had targeted a period of sustained peace of just ten years then bondholders would have profited, despite the accumulation of ever more horrific atomic and nuclear weapons, during the period that preceded the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. If the same bonds had been issued with a target of fifty years of sustained peace, then bondholders would have been motivated to reduce tensions, including by such means as reducing the weapons pile-up, or fostering better relations between the US and USSR. A ten-year goal would see the original bondholders making profits while the prospects for peace looked ever darker. A fifty-year goal would have seen the value of their holdings collapse before and during the Crisis.

The point is not only that peace sustained for a decades-long period encourages longer-term thinking. It is also that by choosing the longer-term goal, our targeting of a relatively easy-to-measure metric like deadly violence and its consequences, we shall inevitably do much to eliminate the much less quantifiable - but hugely important - precursors of violence. 

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