Stone Money – wakeup5am

Who invented money? Who came up with the idea that “this one bill will cost more than 19 of these bills?” Growing up we are trained to believe that money is of importance. No matter what we do in our life, it wouldn’t be possible to do it if we didn’t have money to do it with. On the Island of Yap, they came up with the idea to use coins made of stone as money. Not only were they little pieces of limestone the size of a quarter, they also had giant pieces of limestone bigger than cars. Researches don’t know how limestone started out as money; however, the island of Yap noticed that they needed something to store value, to pay for things. And that is when the idea of stone money came about.

The people of Yap did not use the stone money for every day purchases, it was only for dire needs. Also, stone money being as big as it is, weighing more than a car, it was never exchanged from one person to another. It was just left in one spot and switched owners ever so often. NPR, “The Island of Stone Money” tells a story about a work crew bringing over a giant stone on a Yap boat, but it was dropped in the ocean when a big storm hit. When the crew told everyone on the island what had happened, everyone on the island decided that it was still good and it belongs to the crew workers, even though it was at the bottom of the ocean. No one has ever seen this piece of stone in over 100 years, but someone still owns it to this day.

In Brazil they used “fake money” called URV’s (unit of real value) to stop inflation. NPR’s article, “How Fake Money Saved Brazil”, they talked about the sticker man who walked the isles in the grocery store to higher the prices and people would race the sticker man so they could pay the old prices. A man named Edmar Bacha was called to save the economy of Brazil. He stated that people were the problem and needed to be tricked into thinking that money had value. They made a virtual currency called URV and it was stable. People would still use cruzeiros, but everything was listed in URV’s. Pretty soon prices started to mean something to people and the fake money became real money. After that inflation did end.

Bitcoin is virtual money. It’s a “peer-to-peer” system. It’s also anonymous. NPR’s article “What is Bitcoin?” written by Jacob Goldstein and David Kestenbaum, helped me learn a lot more about it, but I still don’t fully understand it. They state the best way to get bitcoins is to buy it. They started with buying 1 bitcoin for 7 dollars. After two weeks it went up to $23.80. Awhile later the site was shut down so they couldn’t buy bitcoins. Later the broadcasters went to a man named Bruce Wagner who helped them set up an account on MyBitcoin. They didn’t have to put any personal information in there, just a username and password, completely anonymous. Ronald Mann, a professor at Columbia Law School, states that they’re legal for now. Mann also says that in five or ten years it won’t exist. Apparently you can use bitcoins in Manhattan. Later after the broadcast, bitcoin was robbed and had to shut down.

Money is a weird thing in this world. The idea that people just agree on something having more value than something else, whether it be a piece of paper or a rock, is crazy. The story of the rock at the bottom of the ocean is so fascinating; the fact that no one has ever seen it, but it is still own by someone. NPR compared it to online accounts, which is very true. How people can go shopping online and nothing is exchanged, but the values in your online bank because lesser or more. As humans we set our lives around money, we go to school, we work, all to find a way to make more money, that most of us never even see. How do we know that we’re even being paid if we never actually see I with our own eyes? Do we just have to have faith that the numbers in our bank accounts don’t lie? Pretty soon the idea of money will be just that, an idea. Cash won’t exist anymore and America will just rely on credit and debit cards.


Freidman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 1991.

Goldstein, Jacob. Kestenbaum, David. “What Is Bitcoin?”. 25 August 2011

Joffe-Walt, Chana. “How Fake Money Saved Brazil.” 5 Oct. 2010.



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