In theory, both of these systems looked simple and robust. But there was another, somethwat subversive force at play: in the 17th century, many European states have witnessed the emergence of fractional-reserve banks. These private ventures operated according to a simple scheme: they accepted people's money for safekeeping, promising to pay a premium on every deposit made. To meet these obligations and to make a profit, the banks then used the pooled deposits to make high-interest loans to other folks. The financiers figured out that under normal circumstances and when operating at a sufficient scale, they needed only a very modest reserve - well under 10% of all deposited money - to be able to service the usual volume and size of withdrawals requested by their customers. The rest could be loaned out.
Vegetable shortening. Extremely cheap and energy-dense (2,500 kcal per dollar, 4,100 per pound), making it a unique choice when space or money is in critically short supply. In contrast to other common fats, store-brought cans of vegetable shortening should stay fine for 4 years or more. The product is very bland, but it's perfectly palatable when spread on crackers, mixed with bacon bits, and so forth. It does not provide complete nutrition - but again, that won't harm you in the short haul.
Hall led me through the garage, down a ramp, and into a lounge, with a stone fireplace, a dining area, and a kitchen to one side. It had the feel of a ski condo without windows: pool table, stainless-steel appliances, leather couches. To maximize space, Hall took ideas from cruise-ship design. We were accompanied by Mark Menosky, an engineer who manages day-to-day operations. While they fixed dinner—steak, baked potatoes, and salad—Hall said that the hardest part of the project was sustaining life underground. He studied how to avoid depression (add more lights), prevent cliques (rotate chores), and simulate life aboveground. The condo walls are fitted with L.E.D. “windows” that show a live video of the prairie above the silo. Owners can opt instead for pine forests or other vistas. One prospective resident from New York City wanted video of Central Park. “All four seasons, day and night,” Menosky said. “She wanted the sounds, the taxis and the honking horns.”
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