The word "economy" implies some form of unification. An abstraction of value flows that can be tracked and analyzed. Positive feedback loops that increase overall generative activity. Gifts are the antithesis of all this. They're not supposed to be acted on, hence ending potential feedback loops. Tracking and analyzing abstract flows of gifts remove the magic from the activity. If you're giving a gift you don't want to write down the fact that you did so. That makes it not a gift. That makes it something accounted for, indeed, part of a system of accounting. Once records are in place, it's only natural to cross the line over from a giving mindset and wonder what may return to the giver.
But hold up. All the good stuff about giving. That stuff is so good because it's so deep in our primitive instinctive selves. Giving is a way to temporarily circumvent our analytic, calculating, planning cortex, and let our instinctive, emotional self indulge in simply caring and loving each other with a symbolic, yet concrete action. And why do we have these instincts? Because those positive feedback loops happen, or at least, used to, driven entirely by emotion.
In lucky families and communities that make time for un-counted (commonly referred to as immaterial, a misnomer in my opinion) wealth, this still happens. But not at a global scale. No, the scale of these systems is very limited. Gift economies with global reach have popped up, couchsurfing, for instance, but limited to a vertical or a community with strong identity.
A good economic system should break community barriers, and enable horizontal investment, thereby encouraging specialization, which is the foundation of efficiency, nay, economy. One should be able to build a gift economy business with experts in the field, and the company should all benefit from the ardor of other gift businesses where needs match with ability to give.
How could we enable ourselves to give everything that we really want to give, without getting mired in defensive legal structures and debt?
Well, we do have to account for value flow. In order to act, a person needs to first know. So accounting is necessary, but is counting necessary?