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The Value of 1 credit - A guide to InterGalactic Economy

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Community Content > Roleplaying
The Value of 1 credit - A guide to InterGalactic Economy

Trols's Avatar


Trols
05.03.2012 , 10:13 AM | #1
The Value of 1 credit
A guide to InterGalactic Economy
By Quartermaster Vazon/Trols

Table of Contents:
Introduction
What is a Credit?
Stability of the credit
How do we do this?
The Value of a Credit
Converting your currency into Credits
Converting Credits into your currency
Conclusion
Reference
Disclaimer

Introduction

How many credits do your character have available to him at this time?
How many credits does he earn at that job in the fast-food family-restaurent?
Would your character be able to buy the new top of the line speeder for that kind of credits?

These are questions that some may choose to gloss over in roleplay, either because they hate/fail keeping track of money in fabled real life and don't need to bring those troubles with them into the game (I know that feeling) or because their characters happen to be filthy rich (The easy solution, used it myself a few times) OR, more commonly used; ”Well, I can't be troubled with calculating just how many credits my characters work is worth every single time I roleplay.”

Trouble yourself no more, ”The Value of 1 credit”-guide is here.

”Why would you even want to know these things?” some of you ask. Answer is simple: Semi-Realistic Roleplay is super fun!

A less simple answer: By portraying your character and the world around him as close to realism as possible, you will often find that the character seem to become more vivid and believable.

The TL DR answer:
Spoiler


Now, lets first make one thing clear. In the game SWTOR, farming credits is a rather simple task, dailies and space missions are a great source of income, but, as a basis for in character wealth, it's a terrible measure.
The dedicated roleplayer pretending to be an Alderaanian nobleman may not have time to farm credits because he dedicate most of his ingame time to roleplay, and spend all his credits on new clothing to play the part.
The bum in starter gear whom you see outside the Nar Shaddaa cantina once every week however spends the rest of the week doing Warzones, Dailies, Space Missions, and Heroic Mode-Flashpoints. In both cases, their avatars credit counter would not display the amount of credits they would have available in character.

What I am trying to say is this – this guide is purely based on the value of the roleplayed credit, not the ingame version. To heck with that!


What is a Credit?

The Galactic Credit Standard, and later known as the Imperial Credit, also simply called Credit, have been the main currency in use in the galaxy, ever since the time of the Galactic Republic was founded.

From its inception, the Credit was backed by the wealth of the neutral planet Muunilinst and the InterGalactic Banking Clan (IGBC). While there have at times existed both a Republic and an ”Imperial” Credit, it seems that the IGBC backed both credits during several confrontations from the day of the Clone Wars and ahead. (1)

At the time of the Cold War, there is no mention (that I am aware of, correct me if I am wrong) if the IGBC backed the Sith Empire's monetary system, or if the two factions's monetary systems uses the same Galactic Credit Standard.

There are also (or because of) no mention that the value of the Galactic Republic and Sith Empires Credits have differentiated the slightest.

Lacking any such information, using the principle of Occam's razor, which states that “other things being equal, a simpler explanation is better than a more complex one” (2) we can hypothesise that at the very least the exchange rate between the Sith Empire and the Galactic Republic version of the Credit is a simple 1 to 1.

Bonus info: One tenth of a credit was called a decicred.
Bonus info: The credit chip was an electronic alternative to “harder” forms of currency such as coins or bills, but by far the most popular. Currency could be transferred directly from the Bank into the chip, and a single chip could contain billions of credits. So better make sure you give that bum the right one. (3)


Stability of the credit

The Credit itself seem to have been a very very stable currency, possibly due to its backing by the InterGalactic Banking Clan.

Quote:
There is zero nett inflation in the galactic economy. The credit retained roughly equal value over at least four millennia. Compare stated prices of goods and services stated in Tales of the Jedi Companion with prices for similar things in the films, unfilmed fiction and roleplaying material of the Palpatine Era. The absence of inflation for over 160 generations indicates extraordinary stability which deserves detailed examination.
(4)

In other words, according to this research, it seems we can expect a credit chip to be able to buy the same junk during the Cold War, as it can 3600 years later. Assuming the above research is correct, this is information that is very good to know when we move on to the next issue.

What is the value of 1 Galactic Standard Credit

The purpose of this guide is to give us an idea what 1 Credit realistically is worth. What kind of buying power we can get out of 1 credit. And how much our character can demand when negotiating his contract in the local MacDiner.

If we could somehow calculate roughly how many Euro, Pound or Dollar there goes to one Credit, each and all of us would be able to easily compare our own living expenses, and our own salaries, and calculate them into Credits, and viola! We have the means to roleplay realistically around the credit.


How do we do this?

Well, we know that for 2.000 credits you can buy Luke Skywalkers worn-out landspeeder.
But, while this information give us an idea about what we should pay for a new model, assuming it lose value like a used car, knowing that price does not help us figure out what 1 credit is worth compared to anything else. We don't actually know what a landspeeder is worth in the first place. They could be a lot harder to build than a car, or a lot simpler which would influence the price a lot.

What we need is a reference, something we all know fairly well, and can relate to, which exist in both galaxies, and which have a price tag. With that something in hand, we can compare “present galaxy”-prices with “galaxy far far away”-prices, and find the exchange rate. “But... what do we have in both galaxies,” you ask?

Enter Dex's Diner!(5)

From Dex's diner, we can pick a food type that resemble one we know. It could be a Hamburger, alas the city of Hamburg was never built, so they don't exist. Fear not!
What does exist is a food item of a very similar type, known affectionately as “Sliders”. The Hamburgers of the Galaxy Far Far Away.

Quote:
Agamar sliders were one of the specialty sliders on the menu at Dex's Diner on the planet Coruscant. They came from the Agriworld Agamar and were the only slider suitable for vegetarians. They consisted of Agamarian soybeanpatty, in place of the standard Mongo Beefhead patty, topped with a slice of binka fruit and mugruebe spit-sauceall on a trans-shipped medium-density food-board. They cost 6.7 credits.

Zeltros sliders were one of the standard sliders on the menu at Dex's Diner on the planet Coruscant. They were inspired by the 'party planet' Zeltros and consisted of Zeltron pop-peppers, pink lettuce, magenta onions, spicy"pleasure planet" sauce and a Mongo beefhead patty all on a trans-shipped medium-density food-board. They cost 6.7 credits.
Wait, you may think, what does all this talk about hamburgers have to do with The Value of 1 Credit? Let me explain, but first, if the food talk have made you hungry, go grab a snack now, because it's about to get hairy/ier.

As said, we wanted a reference to compare with, so we could find the exchange rate. If we compare the price of a Slider with that of a Burger, we get the difference, and that difference is the purchasing power parity or PPP. The PPP asks how much money would be needed to purchase the same goods and services in two countries, and uses that to calculate an implicit foreign exchange rate.
Madness you say? Well I sure as heck didn't make it up on the spot, it's actually an old idea.

Quote:
The idea originated with the School of Salamanca in the 16th century and was developed in its modern form by Gustav Cassel in 1918. The concept is based on the law of one price, where in the absence of transaction costs and official trade barriers, identical goods will have the same price in different markets when the prices are expressed in the same currency.
(6)

“But Burgers? Really?” Yes! And I am not even being original here. The “finding the implicit exchange rate via burgers”-method have also been used by The Economist under the name “The Big Mac Index” (7). Here we see that in action:

Quote:
For example, using figures in July 2008:


the price of a Big Mac was $3.57 in the United States (Varies by store)
the price of a Big Mac was £2.29 in the United Kingdom (Britain) (Varies by region)
the implied purchasing power parity was $1.56 to £1, that is $3.57/£2.29 = 1.56
this compares with an actual exchange rate of $2.00 to £1 at the time
[(2.00-1.56)/1.56]*100= +28%
the pound was thus overvalued against the dollar by 28%

The Value of a Credit

Before we venture on to do our own calculations, it should be stated, that;
A. I am not an educated economist, so who knows if I understood any of this right, and
B. A lot of other factors than the value of a Burger/Slider play into an actual exchange rate, so it is ultimately an oversimplification (see Occam's razor), but as I understand it (See A.) the PPP take into effect the “raw” value of a currency, as it;
Quote:
facilitate international comparisons of income, as market exchange rates are often volatile, are affected by political and financial factors that do not lead to immediate changes in income and tend to systematically understate the standard of living in poor countries,
Now, we have picked the Sliders which generally sell for 6.7 Galactic Credit Standard (GCS), as they generally seem to use the same type of food stock as the MacD [s]bread and butter[/s] Burger.

In the US the Big-Mac on average sell for 4.2 dollars in 2012. (8)

the price of a Big Mac was 6.7 GCS in the Galaxy (At Dex's Diner)
the price of a Big Mac was 4.2 USD in the United States (Varies by Store)
the implied purchasing power parity was 1.6 GCS to 1 USD , that is 6.7/4.2 = 1.59
In the Euro-zone the Big-Mac price varies, but on average sell for 4.43 USD.


the price of a Big Mac was 6.7 GCS in the Galaxy (At Dex's Diner)
the price of a Big Mac was 3.49 EURO in the Zone (Varies per country)
the implied purchasing power parity was 1.9 GCS to 1 EURO, that is 6.7/3.49 = 1.91
And for the Danes – Big-Mac sells for 31.5 DKR


the price of a Big Mac was 6.7 GCS in the Galaxy (At Dex's Diner)
the price of a Big Mac was 31.5 DKR in Denmark (pretty much the same everywhere)
the implied purchasing power parity was 0.2 GCS to 1 DRK, that is 6.7/31.5 = 0.21
And lastly the GBP version for my overseas buddies (you know who you are)

the price of a Big Mac was 6.7 GCS in the Galaxy (At Dex's Diner)
the price of a Big Mac was 2.49 GBP in Britain
the implied purchasing power parity was 2.7 GCS to 1 GBP, that is 6.7/2.49 = 2.69

Using all those numbers to get a value out of it

So, there you go. Now, if your as mathematically daft as I am (you have no idea how long I spent doing this math and getting it right) here is a little demonstration of the figures in practise.

Converting your currency into Credits

My Twi'lek Doctor have been asked to check on a patient, but both him and I know it is atleast an hour of work, and he sure as heck want to be properly paid. Now, I imagine a doctor of his reknown should earn what amounts to atleast 400 Danish Kroner (DKR) per hour, so I best calculate the price.

I take the 400 and multiply it with the 0.2 which is the PPP between Credits and DKR and get the result that he should charge 80 Credits for his work.

So, RL CURRENCY * PPP = CREDIT VALUE

or 400 * 0.2=80

Converting Credits into your currency

Now, this time, A Hutt have offered My Twi'lek doctor to make a House Call on Nar Shaddaa, and he offered to pay 240 Credits to take the job. Before I say yes, I'm just gonna have to check if that is really a job worth taking.

In this case, I take the 240, and instead divide it with the 0.2 which is the PPP between Credits and DKR and I get the result that my twi'lek is being offered 1200 DKR.

So, CREDIT VALUE / PPP = RL CURRENCY

or 240 / 0.2 = 1200

Conclusion

The Value of 1 credit:
1 Credit = 0,62 USD
1 Credit = 0.53 EURO
1 Credit = 0.37 GBP
1 Credit = 5 DKR
There we have it. The value of 1 credit, easily decipherable into Real Life currencies for us to better RP around and with the Galactic Credit Standard.

You can do the math on your own currency youself, and then all you need to do is to plot in your own numbers and answer those questions:

How many credits do your character have available to him at this time?
How many credits does he earn at that job in the fast-food family-restaurent?
Would your character be able to buy the new top of the line speeder for that kind of credits?


Reference:

1: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Galactic_Credit_Standard
2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor
3: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Credit_chip
4: http://theforce.net/swtc/units.html#time
5: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Categ..._Dex%27s_Diner
6: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purchasing_power_parity
7: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Mac_Index
8: http://bigmacindex.org/2012-big-mac-index.html


Disclaimer

Since Lucas Art have never really published the Exchange rate of Galactic Credit Standard, even assuming we could use something as “simplistic” as burgers as a guide, this guide is, and will always be conjecture.

Keep in mind what I wrote earlier, I am not an educated economist, so I welcome critisism regarding the theory and method behind this, and equally welcome a discussion about the validity of the claims that I have made.

One thing I feel compelled to say however is, that correct or not, effective roleplay is often more about building concensus with the roleplayers you interact with - than being "right" and factual.
Even assuming this guide is totally off, it will work if roleplayers take to it and use it, OR any other functional method to finding the value of 1 credit can become consensus. If the above work can help build this agreement between roleplayers, which is currently missing, I cannot say, but I atleast hope someone will find it moderately useful, and in doing so help make the use of the Galactic Credit Standard a lot more realistic.

Also... yes. I did base it all on burgers! *nom nom nom*
Quartermaster Vazon:
Quartermaster of the Iron Hand
Siolo Odán:
M.D. and soon to be owner of Nar Shaddaa Free Clinic

Acherom's Avatar


Acherom
05.03.2012 , 10:58 AM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by Trols View Post
Also... yes. I did base it all on burgers! *nom nom nom*
It will take me a moment to ingest all of this information; but in the mean time, excellent work.
"These people have lost a homeworld through no fault of their own. Offering them a new homeworld is the least I can do to compensate them for their loss." - Darth Sidious

Darth_Slaine's Avatar


Darth_Slaine
05.03.2012 , 11:19 AM | #3
Very thoughtful post! I enjoyed reading it.

Guildrum's Avatar


Guildrum
05.03.2012 , 12:28 PM | #4
O.O

You have won the internetz.
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Thebazilly's Avatar


Thebazilly
05.09.2012 , 01:13 PM | #6
Huh. I always figured that credits were about equal to USD in value, but I guess I was off by a bit. Very interesting, and thank you for putting all the work and research into this!

Estiroth's Avatar


Estiroth
05.12.2012 , 02:13 PM | #7
Quote: Originally Posted by Acherom View Post
It will take me a moment to ingest all of this information; but in the mean time, excellent work.
"Sorry for the bun"?

OT: Dude, you're genious. Crazy .. but genious. And omnomnom burgers.
Arsenal Mercenary Assault Specialist Vanguard Scrapper Scoundrel
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Briah's Avatar


Briah
05.12.2012 , 04:56 PM | #8
One thing that rather bugs me is that there is apparently no inflation at all in the Star Wars universe. That's completely unrealistic. Not your fault of course, but it just makes the calculation more interesting. Upon further consideration, I suppose that would mean every time our currencies went up or down, the value of the calculation would change because the Star Wars price doesn't change. Additionally, I am considering whether the Big Mac Index really applies because you are comparing two products that aren't necessarily the exact same thing. However, I do like where you are going with this. I would have instead compared researched prices of different commodities through the galaxy, as referenced in different Star Wars literature, to give an idea of what a basket of goods in the galactic economy was priced at. However, kudos for all the thought you put into it.

Trols's Avatar


Trols
05.27.2012 , 09:24 AM | #9
Quote: Originally Posted by Briah View Post
One thing that rather bugs me is that there is apparently no inflation at all in the Star Wars universe. That's completely unrealistic. Not your fault of course, but it just makes the calculation more interesting. Upon further consideration, I suppose that would mean every time our currencies went up or down, the value of the calculation would change because the Star Wars price doesn't change. Additionally, I am considering whether the Big Mac Index really applies because you are comparing two products that aren't necessarily the exact same thing. However, I do like where you are going with this. I would have instead compared researched prices of different commodities through the galaxy, as referenced in different Star Wars literature, to give an idea of what a basket of goods in the galactic economy was priced at. However, kudos for all the thought you put into it.
I understand and appreciate your concerns and critique of the Credit guide.

It is true that the lack of inflation in the Star Wars galaxy seems odd, but after giving it some thought, I may have come up with a theory as to why it seems so very stable.

Again, I am not an economist, a far cry from it, but could it not be that, over the course of the many many millennia the Galaxy, and the Republic, have existed, the galaxy wide currency have had quite adequate time to settle itself. Galactic crisis have become part of the norm, and instead of fluctuating up and down for every crisis, on every planet or sector, the credit value have simply settled itself somewhere between "all is well" and "all is lost". After all, the currencies we depend on is extremely young, none even close to a thousand years old, to the best of my knowledge.

Not to mention that the galaxy wide credit is backed by a banking -planet- and not the Republic itself, which may mean it is less inclined to be influenced by the ups and downs of the republic. No currency in our world have become truly detatched from its original state, but what would happen if we did get such a currency? If the organisation minting it would be able to stay neutral and out of trouble, would it not be able to maintain a fairly stable value, without much inflation?

Yet, your argument is good, and valid. We do not really have anything canonical to base assumptions on inflation on, any more than we know the true canonical value of 1 credit.

It is also a far stretch to assume that prices on burgers can be compared in two different galaxies, where we can almost certainly assume there are very different trade barriers, and the supply and demand must be quite different. On Earth, food is shipped over seas, in SW its shipped through empty space.

It is an important factor to consider, regarding the validity of the guide: Is it fair and "realistic" to compare, and thus base the intricate calculations about currency values, on something as simplistic as burgers, without any alternative sources of cross reference?

It is something I found to be the primary flaw of the guide, and a massive flaw indeed.


But, that being said, as roleplayers in the star wars universe, in a MMO, we do not strickly have to adhere to any kind of canon (whereof there is non on this subject), but rather focus on what we can agree on.

Roleplay is as much about reaching common ground, establishing consensus, as anything else.
What breaks roleplay, more often than not, is situations where two roleplayers does not share the same view of the world. An example regarding credits could be;
a bounty hunter ask for 50.000 credits in reward for a bounty, which he consider fair pay for a weeks work. The man who's to pay for the bounty, consider 50.000 to be more than he can make in a year.

A discussion erupts, despite the bounty hunters good attempt to be fair and forthcoming.

But, if we roleplayers can establish a consensus, immersion breaking problems would not be as likely to occur. This is not to say that my guide should form the frame for a consensus on Credit value. In fact, if we had any kind of canon to base things on, I would not have to take desperate measures like these.

But the fact is, George Lucas never shed much light on the value of 1 credit. My guide is, as I see it, currently the closest thing we have come to find the value, without basing it completely on assumptions.

While I find it quite fair that roleplayers disregard the math, or the methods, the interesting fact remains, that all it takes for this guide to "work", as basis for a consensus - and thus better roleplay, is for roleplayers to start using it in practise. That way, we would all at least use the same standards, when we talked about credits - canoncial or not.
Quartermaster Vazon:
Quartermaster of the Iron Hand
Siolo Odán:
M.D. and soon to be owner of Nar Shaddaa Free Clinic

halosavior's Avatar


halosavior
06.28.2013 , 07:50 PM | #10
This is truly insightful, and I thank you for the effort you put into this, Trols, but honestly, after bringing this to my guild's attention, they would much rather stick with the assumption that 1 credit = 1 USD (since most of us are from the States). Personally, I think your work has definitely provided an amazing resource for RPers to reference, and as you said, RP is all about finding some sort of common ground for people to work from, leading to more realistic monetary transactions. You have provided just that, and deserve the recognition.

Interestingly enough, I've recently launched an RP weapons manufacturing company on the Ebon Hawk, and will be taking these calculations into consideration.

If you wanted to expand on this thread's implications, I think it would be good to start creating price charts for several "products" to reference. You've already started this with your mention of Luke's speeder and the Big Mac example, but it would be cool if we had some references for armaments, star ship maintenance, food, general supplies, and maybe even the cost of something super expensive/rare like Mandalorian armor and Dreadnaughts.
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