Perhaps the best characterization of financial engineering I've heard is that it moves money through both space and time to where it can be most valuable. But if we imagine money as a call option on abstracted human services, it might be more precise to say financial engineering moves "people being useful" through time and space to where it can be most valuable.

A loan moves money from the future into the present, and there are plenty of contracts to do the opposite. Everything a bank does can basically be modeled as being perfectly in balance in double-entry bookkeeping, with the asterisk next to their own internal profits, losses etc. Despite the temptation to imagine banks as having control over access to money, they're mostly a conduit through which people with money attempt to trade it into the future, against which people in the present think they have a better use for it.

But it's also possible to say, wait, if money is just a call option on people being useful to you, wouldn't the supermajority of it be created by normal business of all types? Certainly accounts payable should be considered money-creation – I mean, you used to have ~nothing, now you have something useful and the other person has a cash-like asset of your future payment. But what about more mundane contracts? If the banks-create-money argument can rely on multiple people making claims to similar (but distinct) assets, almost any contract probably fits the bill.

Imagine: I deposit $100 in a bank. I can still spend that $100, but the bank can also loan it out. Magic! If that argument holds water, why not, I sign a contract for $100 of goods to a supplier on consignment. I can still spend the $100 and I can still have and sell the goods. Magic!

Except it isn't magic. In some ways, even drawing the comparison probably confuses more than helps. But that's the point: contracts let us pretend having something and being promised it are the same. People routinely take advantage of the float, either to gain or lose leverage. Risk isn't the same as cash, trust isn't the same as cash. Let's be clear about what's being made in these arrangements.