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> Value of the Nuyen
MaxMahem
post Oct 23 2008, 12:22 AM
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Once upon a time I recall reading that Shadowrun's Nuyen is worth approximatly $5 US. I think it was in one of the neo-anarchist guides or something. By now of course this reference is outdated both from the time in Shadowrun it referenced (some 20 years in the past now I think). And the time in our world which it referenced (also 20 years) hence. A couple of SR editions have come and gone since then as well. In any case the 6th world is so far removed from our own that potentially any exchange rate is believable.

So I don't follow that rate in my games. Instead I use the simple conversion of 1:nuyen: = $1 dollar. Mainly for the sake of simplicity, but I believe it is justifiable in game. Going by the gauge I think is best to use is lifestyle. Admittedly lifestyles are odd in Shadowrun. As they are one of the things most arbitrarily defined into a few small categories, which in real life vary by a huge amount, not based just upon you style of life, but also upon your location. But regardless I think they are a fair scale by witch to 'scale' the nuyen to the dollar. I do this by assuming that for most people (ie not runners), payments for their lifestyle are mostly equal to their income.

Thus, according to the lifestyle section, someone living a 'low' lifestyle pays 2,000:nuyen: which by my assumtions means he has an income of about 24,000:nuyen: a year. If that was equivalent to dollars it would be a fairly reasonable lifestyle for a low class person. In the US today this (depending upon your location) is a fair-to-decent wage for a factory or clerical worker of some sort, it's equivalent to ~$10/hr. Its just under the amount a person would have to make to be eligible as an 'exempt' employee. A single person making this wage can make ends meet, but is in the lower class.

A middle lifestyle equates to an income of ~$60,000 a year. Which is a good salary for many 'professional' people. Including some kinds of engineers, experienced teachers, and low level managers. A single person making this level of income is pretty solidly middle class by today's standards.

A high lifestyle equates to an income of ~$120,000 a year. This within the range you could expect for higher class professionals such as doctors, lawyers, senior engineers, ect. A single person making this much income is doing pretty well for them selves and can afford most of the reasonable luxuries today's world has to offer.

A luxury lifestyle equates to an income of $1.2 million a year, but as the book says this can go up. As you can see in shadowrun (as in reality) there is often quite a gap between high class professionals, and the true upper-crust. Actors, Executive officers of large coporations have incomes at or above this level.

So I think the $1=1:nuyen: scale is pretty reasonable, at least when based off of lifestyle. If there is a problem with it, its that lifestyle is to discrete, while in reality people incomes spread over a larger range. If we used the 1:nuyen:=$5 ration I've heard earlier, wages would be much to high.

Car prices are also more or less in line for this ration (maybe a little low).

---

Only partially related to this point is answer to a question my players sometimes ask me. How does the common person afford cyberware/other crap. Or who is the market for unusual item x? In reality the answer is pretty simple. They have either saved a portion of their income, or are in debt. In the corp dominated world of Shadowrun I would not expect it to be uncommon for even a low income person to have debt equal to their yearly income or even greater. No doubt consumers are encouraged to take-on nearly crippling levels of debt by the corporations for their profit and to boost consumer spending.

This assumption means most gear/cyberware is available to an interested party. Even a ganger living a squatter level lifestyle could reasonable be assumed to own a bike and/or some cheap mods like a smartlink or claws. A security guard living a low class lifestyle could reasonably afford pretty at least the base level of pretty much any cyberaugmentation in the book, and might decided to invest in it given his occupation (what kind of price can you put on your life?). A security professional pulling down at least medium lifestyle (such as a HTR team member) could afford multiple cyber-augmentations or some bioware if they wished. With the increase in the use of the matrix and telcomunication I don't think it would necessarily be that unusual for someone pulling a middle lifestyle who was interested in some of the more exotic cyber-mods. They are your market for your 'kid-stealth cyberlegs' and other weird shit.
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DocTaotsu
post Oct 23 2008, 12:47 AM
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Have you looked at Runners Companion yet? The advanced lifestyle rules, while not perfect, certainly do help round out what a life style really is. More importantly they add a lot more spice to your character's home life beyond "You live in a shitty/nice/posh neighborhood"

I think it's also important to note that people may pay into a lifestyle that exceeds their yearly income. Real life is rife with people who live well beyond their means and I don't see any reason to have SR differ there.
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Karaden
post Oct 23 2008, 01:06 AM
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QUOTE (DocTaotsu @ Oct 22 2008, 08:47 PM) *
I think it's also important to note that people may pay into a lifestyle that exceeds their yearly income. Real life is rife with people who live well beyond their means and I don't see any reason to have SR differ there.


Too true, thus the reason for all the bank trouble in the USA lately. Too many people taking out huge loans they could never really hope to pay back.

As for the overall conversion, I think it is fairly reasonable, but it does break down slightly when you look at buying a lifestyle.... actually maybe it doesn't. Middle lifestyle would cost you 500k. Maybe 300ish k for the house itself, 10k for the vehicle, and that leaves 190k for a 'lifetime' supply of food and entertainment. 190k in the bank, eat and entertain off monthly interest, sounds good to me.

Where the conversion does break down is if you do $5=1:nuyen: After all, that would make a permanent middle lifestyle cost 2.5 mil by today's standards. Now, I don't know if this still holds true, but in general you can expect to live fairly decent off of the interest from 1 mil. I'd expect you could live it up off the interest from 2.5 mil. And you could truly wine and dine from the interest of 5 mil that would be the equivalent of buying a high lifestyle.

Overall I'd agree with the 1 to 1 ratio. Another thing that supports this is the 'has a job' or whatever quality. Don't have my book on me, but if I recall the monthly salery from a 40 hours a week job was 5k a month. 4 weeks in a month, that's 1.25k a week. 40 hours a week, that's... wow, that's actually 31.5 an hour. Never done that math before. Well gee, that almost makes me think a dollar is worth more then a nuyen, but it sure as heck isn't worth less by that math.
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Cain
post Oct 23 2008, 01:10 AM
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The $5 = 1 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) conversion was for UCAS dollars. We live in the USA. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)

Modern dollars convert at 1:1. It makes setting prices for things that have no cost much easier.
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DocTaotsu
post Oct 23 2008, 01:18 AM
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I think the 1:1 is fairly established canon, at least for 4th ed. With only a few exceptions the cost of an item is about on par with what you'd pay today.

*points at Cain*
What he said.
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MaxMahem
post Oct 23 2008, 01:24 AM
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QUOTE (Karaden @ Oct 22 2008, 08:06 PM) *
Overall I'd agree with the 1 to 1 ratio. Another thing that supports this is the 'has a job' or whatever quality. Don't have my book on me, but if I recall the monthly salery from a 40 hours a week job was 5k a month. 4 weeks in a month, that's 1.25k a week. 40 hours a week, that's... wow, that's actually 31.5 an hour. Never done that math before. Well gee, that almost makes me think a dollar is worth more then a nuyen, but it sure as heck isn't worth less by that math.

5k a month is 60k a year. Or a middle class lifestyle. Obviously this is not a minimum wage job we are talking about here! I know it sounds like a lot an hour, but thats life. The middle class professional people easily earn 5x-6x more than someone at the other end of the scale. And don't even START looking at what the super-rich make on an hourly basis.

In shadowrun, as in life, wealth is obviously not distributed equally. Not even close. Infact I would suspect that most locations have a gini index ( a measure of inequality) similar or higher than that of Mexico.

QUOTE
I think it's also important to note that people may pay into a lifestyle that exceeds their yearly income. Real life is rife with people who live well beyond their means and I don't see any reason to have SR differ there.

True enough, but such a lifestyle is obviously not sustainable long-terms so I choose to ignore this case. Though this certianly plays into what I said about people being in debt in amount equal to (or possibly greater!) their yearly income. I think the assumtion that a person might reasonably have game important assets (drones, cyberwear, vehicles, ect...) equal to his yearly income is a simple an gamable way to deal with this case.

On the other end you could have people living beneath there means and pocketing/saving the difference. While reasonable, I don't think this gives with the 'spend, spend, spend' consumer culture that no doubt exists in the 6th world to an even greater extent then today. So I choose to ignore it for this simplistic analysis as well. Another way to look at it might be that the difference between the assets of a low income person with those of a high income person is that the low-income persons assets are purchased on credit, while the high lifestyle person's assets are purchased in cash. Obviously for most NPCs this difference is off course moot. What matters if if they have the stuff or not.
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Karaden
post Oct 23 2008, 01:53 AM
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5k a month, 60k a year, and 31.5 an hour just don't seem to add up properly. Especially when you consider that is what the runner in question takes home, which is sure to be lowered with things like taxes, so he is actually making even more then 31.5 an hour.

I know that 4 weeks are lost in a year using 4 weeks/month, but still something about that equation seems very off. I mean minimum wage is like 7 an hour or so, and I don't think they make under 15k a year...

Something seems very off...

Oh well, seems there is general agreement that $1 US = 1 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif)
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Cain
post Oct 23 2008, 02:17 AM
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Try your math with 52 weeks/year.

31.5/hr x 40 hrs/wk x 52 wks/year = 65,520/year. So it does add up to a middle lifestyle, with a little left over.

Now, the reality is that many people live in corporate-subsidized housing, shop at corporate stores, eat corporate food, and generally live corporate-sponsored lives. They're even paid in corporate script! So their real wages would be much less, as the rest is covered in benefits and corporate discounts.

BTW, I read something recently that said the median income in the US was about $32,000/year. So, personally, I think the middle lifestyle in SR4 is overpriced.
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MaxMahem
post Oct 23 2008, 02:24 AM
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QUOTE (Karaden @ Oct 22 2008, 08:53 PM) *
5k a month, 60k a year, and 31.5 an hour just don't seem to add up properly. Especially when you consider that is what the runner in question takes home, which is sure to be lowered with things like taxes, so he is actually making even more then 31.5 an hour.

I know that 4 weeks are lost in a year using 4 weeks/month, but still something about that equation seems very off. I mean minimum wage is like 7 an hour or so, and I don't think they make under 15k a year...

Well I didn't check your math, but your are still pretty close. There are 52 weeks in a year and 40 hours in a work week so someone making 60k a year is making the equivalent of ~$29/hr. Though of course most professionals are not payed on an hourly basis, but salaried. So their hourly pay may be somewhat different depending upon exactly how many hours they work. Depending upon the job, 40, 60, or even more hours a week may be the rule. The rate might also be higher if you consider that they are still payed the same rate even when they aren't at work for things such as illness or vacation (which an hourly employee may or may not be compensated for).

Minimum wage is currently federaly mandated at $6.55/hr in the US (though some states have a rate set higher and American Samoa is exempt). Which equates to ~14k a year. And indeed there are people living at these wages, though of course it is difficult. To give you an idea the poverty level for a single person in the US is ~10k a year in take home pay, while you have to make more than about ~24k a year may be considered exempt. Living on the bottom end of the scale is tough, and there are a lot of people down there.
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DocTaotsu
post Oct 23 2008, 02:34 AM
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That might be Americas median income but I don't think that accurately reflects what we would consider a "Middle Class" lifestyle. It's not a bad living but I consider a Middle Lifestyle to include paying a mortage on a decent house in a decent neighborhood, having enough cash to support 2.5 kids, and owning two cars which are no more than 8 years old. You need a bit more than 30k a year for that in most major cities. Exceptions all around of course and the specifics might change but I think a person who makes 60k a year is comfortably in what is generally accepted as a middle class life.
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Cain
post Oct 23 2008, 03:10 AM
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As far as I can tell, Doc, that number is for individuals. So a household with two wage-earners would be netting 64,000 per year. That might explain the difference.
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MaxMahem
post Oct 23 2008, 03:15 AM
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QUOTE (DocTaotsu @ Oct 22 2008, 09:34 PM) *
That might be Americas median income but I don't think that accurately reflects what we would consider a "Middle Class" lifestyle. It's not a bad living but I consider a Middle Lifestyle to include paying a mortage on a decent house in a decent neighborhood, having enough cash to support 2.5 kids, and owning two cars which are no more than 8 years old. You need a bit more than 30k a year for that in most major cities. Exceptions all around of course and the specifics might change but I think a person who makes 60k a year is comfortably in what is generally accepted as a middle class life.


It all depends upon what you mean by 'middle class.' Surprisingly nearly everyone considers themselves 'middle class' even those earning drastically more or less then in the middle bracket actually do. It also depends upon if you count your numbers per person or per household. As you average house hold may earn more money (two or more wage earners) but it may be devided between more people as well. So it even varies within a house hold as well.

In the US households in the middle 20% earned incomes between $36,000 and $57,657, with an average of 1 income earner. While this groups lies in the 'middle' weather or not they are middle class is entirely subjective.

In terms of distribution, the same old story is true. There are a lot with a little, and a few with a lot. Currently the top 1% in closing in on 20% of all income. In the 6th world, I expect we can see this trend exaggerated even more.

The things would seem to indicate that if anything, the cost and the luxuries afforded by a 'middle' lifestyle should be reduced.
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DocTaotsu
post Oct 23 2008, 03:17 AM
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Mm true and this gets into an issue of what a married couple pays in lifestyle (in game terms).

Actually I think that's covered, in a fashion, in RC. If you have a roommate who covers some of the cost of living than your lifestyle costs come down.

I guess I'm just looking at it from my perspective, as a person who has made 28k a year I can comfortably say I was living a lower-middle class lifestyle. I wasn't starving but I wasn't about to buy a house (I think home ownership, or the capability of home ownership is considered a hallmark of the middle class) or even particulalry expensive furniture (I seem to recall doing a lot of typing on the floor).

Now if I'm a single guy making 60k a year... I could afford a nice pad, some sweet clothing, and a fairly nice car. I'd probably have a college education or at least work in a technically demanding job (mechanic, electrician, etc).
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MaxMahem
post Oct 23 2008, 03:37 AM
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QUOTE (DocTaotsu @ Oct 22 2008, 10:17 PM) *
I guess I'm just looking at it from my perspective, as a person who has made 28k a year I can comfortably say I was living a lower-middle class lifestyle. I wasn't starving but I wasn't about to buy a house (I think home ownership, or the capability of home ownership is considered a hallmark of the middle class) or even particulalry expensive furniture (I seem to recall doing a lot of typing on the floor).

Now if I'm a single guy making 60k a year... I could afford a nice pad, some sweet clothing, and a fairly nice car. I'd probably have a college education or at least work in a technically demanding job (mechanic, electrician, etc).

Not to burst your bubble, but by many economist rankings you would have been part of the 'working' class. Which in Shadowrun translates to 'low' class. There's nothing wrong with this mind you, most of America falls into this class. Lower middle class is generally considered to extend from the ~50th - 80th percentiles, with incomes ranging from ~$3200 to $60,000. Though most house holds would have two income earners so that income would be doubled. Such a person might have a college degree (about 20%), and if they did a job involving manual labor it would involve some sort of professional skill. Like a senior electrician or a dental hygienist.

But as I said before such classifications are of course entirely subjective. Though you did prove my point about nearly everyone (regardless of their income) regarding themselves as 'middle class.'

With all this talk of income distribution, it might be worth while to have a discussion of what income distribution looks like in the 6th world. My take:
Street: 5%
Squatter: 10%
Low: 60%
Middle: 20%
High: 5%
Luxury: << 1%.
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AngelisStorm
post Oct 23 2008, 03:38 AM
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Remember that people at the bottom have things like food stamps and other social services to help make ends meet. But it's still rough. What was the explanation I gave to someone once...? "You can get by making that much money. The problem comes when something exciting happens... a tire blows out or you need to see a dentist. There really isn't any wiggle room with that kind of money."

Mercer Island and similar areas are crazy. Even with a sig. portion of people below the poverty line (more than 5%), the average income is 93,000 or so. I like the 1Y=1$, but you have to fudge that different areas have different costs of living. (You can get a mansion in most of Texas for what you pay for a "middle class" home on a tiny lot in most of SR "Seattle.")
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DocTaotsu
post Oct 23 2008, 04:01 AM
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I'd actually agree with you that I was in the "working class" but as has been mentioned, almost everyone wants some part of the "middle" class. I'm just saying that I was living reasonably comfortable and that I knew people getting by with significantly less. I think most people think that if they are above the poverty line than they are in the middle class. That's a stretch but considering the disparity between squatter, low, and middle I'd guess I'd have fallen in the low with some elements of the middle.

I had a place to live and some nice things. If I just had a place to live I'd class myself as low.
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Karaden
post Oct 23 2008, 04:42 AM
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QUOTE (DocTaotsu @ Oct 22 2008, 10:17 PM) *
Mm true and this gets into an issue of what a married couple pays in lifestyle (in game terms).


The RC 'has a roommate' thing is one way to reflect it, but given the situation, I think it falls much more under the rule of 'you can support an additional person in your household for 10% of the cost of the lifestyle' Don't remember the exact location of that, but it is around somewhere. The increase represents the fact the the house is the same size, entertainment bill is the same, furniture costs the same, and security and neighborhood all cost the same. Only thing your really having to spend extra on is food. And yes, I know utilities goes up with multiple people, but I think this is mostly absorbed by how much energy a house in SR is going to be using anyway, and things like lights are going to be on roughly the same amount of time anyway.

Edit: And then of course after the 10% increase you'd have two people paying for the bill instead of just 1, which means each person pays about 55% of the original cost. I remember playing in a low power game where none of the people had much money so we all shared a middle lifestyle. It was cramped, but it saved a ton on lifestyle.
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hyzmarca
post Oct 23 2008, 05:00 AM
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Middle-Class is a nebulous term that encompasses everything between the poverty line and a million bucks.

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FlashbackJon
post Oct 23 2008, 02:49 PM
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QUOTE (Cain @ Oct 22 2008, 09:17 PM) *
BTW, I read something recently that said the median income in the US was about $32,000/year. So, personally, I think the middle lifestyle in SR4 is overpriced.

The average American household (including all income-earners) makes $44,000/year, and has $16,000 in non-car, non-house debt. The savings rate in America is currently -2%.

Just... er... throwing that out there. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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Karaden
post Oct 23 2008, 02:55 PM
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QUOTE (FlashbackJon @ Oct 23 2008, 10:49 AM) *
The average American household (including all income-earners) makes $44,000/year, and has $16,000 in non-car, non-house debt. The savings rate in America is currently -2%.

Just... er... throwing that out there. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)


Hard to imagine why some people don't like the USA so much isn't it?

My mind boggles at having 16k in non-house/car debt. Heck, I was freaking out last time I'd made an extra purchase between paychecks and was a hundred or so short on paying off the bill entirely. (Tied up too much money in CDs actually)

So yeah, I always see those commercials about 'do you have 50k in dept?' and think 'wow, how is it even possible to go into so much debt', and it isn't even talking about house/car payments left to be made. Guess I'm not a good little consumer since I don't place myself in crippling debt. I wonder if that means I'd actually be a runner in the world of SR. Edit: Since corps wouldn't want to hire someone who won't be spending everything they earn and more on company products.
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Snow_Fox
post Oct 26 2008, 05:44 PM
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A 3pt day job requires you to work 40 hours a week and gives you a monthly income of (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 5,000 which is the basic middle class life style.

As for value, there's no reason for much of a change from the $5= (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 1 level. I mean since the 1970's the US dollar and UK pound have been pretty steady with relation to one another- 1Poud = to between $2 and $1.50
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MJBurrage
post Oct 26 2008, 06:48 PM
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As someone else already noted the following are all about the same value:
  • $1 (USA)
  • 1¥ (nuyen)
  • $5 (UCAS)
  • 100¥ (old yen)
This is almost certainly deliberate by the game designers since it means that any real life item without a listed Shadowrun price can be estimated to cost in nuyen the same that it costs today in USA dollars.

This also strongly implies that at some point Japan revalued the old yen 100:1 to create the nuyen (Mexico did the same thing in 1993, converting 1000 peso to 1 nuevo peso). It also shows how much the greenback was devalued by the dissolution of the old USA and the formation of UCAS.
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MaxMahem
post Oct 26 2008, 09:17 PM
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QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Oct 26 2008, 12:44 PM) *
A 3pt day job requires you to work 40 hours a week and gives you a monthly income of (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 5,000 which is the basic middle class life style.

As for value, there's no reason for much of a change from the $5= (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) 1 level. I mean since the 1970's the US dollar and UK pound have been pretty steady with relation to one another- 1Poud = to between $2 and $1.50

As I pointed out in my original post, the exchange rate of 5 current US dollars to 1 Shadowrun nuyen is much, much to high. It would mean a person living a middle class lifestyle would be making nearly $300,000 dollars a year. This isn't middle class by anyone's definition (except for some fools making that much!), less then 5% of US population brings in that much.

So as I said the unstated definition of 1:nuyen: ~ $1 is about right.
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Trobon
post Oct 26 2008, 09:20 PM
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On the subject of lifestyles, this is my take on it. The normal wage-slave lives in a fairly simple, corp-sponsored, middle class lifestyle. Additionally, he/she is able to support 2-3 children on average. Now assuming that they are supporting 2 kids at a time the monthly cost goes up by 30%. However, according to the RC advanced lifestyle rules Corporate Housing is a 3 LP bonus. So the cost of their lifestyle would be closer to a base of 3,200 NuYen for a total of 4,160. With that they are left over with 840 a month to put away for savings for important things (Retirement, College, Emergencies, etc).

Now, I will say that the average wageslave works for 50 years before retiring meaning he's saved up a total of 504,000 NuYen. Not subtracting for big expenditures (assuming interest basically cancels them out) that means they could buy a medium class lifestyle for retirement. Seems about right according to todays standards, but I'm not sure about in SR. I think what is missing is that the couple should have to retire in a corp sponsored middle-class lifestyle, but then again corp sponsors their employees not their retired employees...

Either way it seems to work out that way to me at least.
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MJBurrage
post Oct 27 2008, 12:32 AM
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Moving Target
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QUOTE (MaxMahem @ Oct 26 2008, 04:17 PM) *
As I pointed out in my original post, the exchange rate of 5 current US dollars to 1 Shadowrun nuyen is much, much to high. It would mean a person living a middle class lifestyle would be making nearly $300,000 dollars a year. This isn't middle class by anyone's definition (except for some fools making that much!), less then 5% of US population brings in that much.

So as I said the unstated definition of 1:nuyen: ~ $1 is about right.

No one ever said that 1 nuyen = 5 USA dollars. We said that 1 nuyen = 5 UCAS dollars I.E. the dollar in the 2050s–2070s is only worth 20 cents in today's USA dollars. 1 nuyen ~ 5 UCAS dollars ~ 1 USA dollar.
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