Natives of the Island of Yap use stone coins as currency, that is mined from limestone caves 400 miles away. The name of this rare form of money is called Fei. The bigger the Fei, the wealthier the person. There is a trick to their methods , a person does not have to have possession of the coin to state that they own it. The islanders just know who owns what, because they have a belief in their people. Kind of like us Americans do, we have all the faith in the world that our money is our money, but through all the swipes of your credit/debit cards, Do you get to see one dollar?
The money we think we hold in our hands or posses in our bank accounts today is fiction. The representation our bills and coins once had, is now gone. It no longer stands as important. Now a days we do not need paper bills or metal coins at all, we are comfortable enough to just go to a machine, swipe a card, and see how much money we have in our accounts, and believing that it is there. We might as well live on the Island of Yap, because we have a belief in our currency system so much like the Yap do.
The Yap use to be owned by the Spanish, but now currently reside under German jurisdiction. Coral shell paths covered the island of Yap, so the Germans asked a simple question to pave roads on the Island so they could transport goods and packages easier. The folk of Yap agreed, years and years past and still no roads, so what the Germans did was paint black crosses on the giant limestone coins , Stating that now the Germans own the people of Yaps currency. This upset the Yap very much, so they paved the roads for the Germans and they Germans simply washed the paint off the coins, returning ownership of the money to the Yap. Reading Friedman’s essay, a similar event happened in 1933 when France and America were having some issues with gold exchange, so the French went into the American gold vault and painted crosses on the gold claiming the Americans gold. No difference happened with what the French did to the Americans than what the Germans did to the Yap.
The Brazilian citizens were invested in their money and how they used some sort of fake , made up money to save their country. Brazil was causing inflation day by day in their own country.The Brazilians could not wrap their mind around the concept that the price of the dollar or cruzeiros stayed the same, but the value of the cruzeiros were due to change and how much they could purchase would also change. This example shows you by the Brazilians using the fake currency which was called URV’s changed their country rapidly. This article proved that we depend on money so much that man chooses to just make money when we do not have it, showing that money is a fictional item.
The last article that I read was about how the Japanese approved a $10.3 million yen stimulus ($116 Billion dollars) to help their countries economic issues. Doing this Japan decreased the value of yen so much it made their currency weaker. From fabricating this fake money Japans public debt is twice the size of their economy. Reading this article definitely changed my opinion on how I look at money permanently.
My mind is dumbfound from the knowledge it has just absorbed from reading the Stone Money , Brazil, and Japan articles. Money in my eyes will never look or feel the same way again. From reading these articles money went from the most important thing in my life to ‘wow this thing, this figment of our imagination that we do not even physically touch now a days called by many names, fei, dollar, coin, etc.. Do we really need it? We do not physically possess money anymore most of the time so Is it an item of necessity or is it a figment of our imagination? No one really knows, but now as an acknowledged reader of the idea of money I can now say there is a better understanding floating around my head about the US dollar and currency around the world period!
Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University , 1991.
“The Invention of Stone Money.” 423: The Invention of Stone Money. This Is American Life, WBEZ. Chicago . 7 Jan. 2011.
Joffe-Walt, Chana . “How Fake Money Saved Brazil.” NPR.org. 4 Oct. 2010. 30 Jan. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/10/04/130329523/how-fake-money-saved-brazil>>
Tibuchi, Hiroko. “Japan Approves $116 Billion for Urgent Economic Stimulus.” NYTimes.com. N.p., n.d. Web