When describing money, the main definition of money would be described as a unit of value used to exchange or receive. We use money for the sole purpose to gain benefits or to use it as a means of satisfaction. Every country adopts a system or forms a set of records that track everything that goes in and out, creating an economy; one that can balance and stabilize the currency and market. However, when the stability of currency starts losing value and disrupts the flow of an entire civilization, the economy turns to shambles and the market collapses affecting everyone’s lifestyle.
In the podcast titled “The Invention of Money,” the narrators open up the discussion by asking the rhetorical question, “What is money?” by stating that money is merely a form of transaction and a unit to receive or sell goods. The word currency was used and translated from different parts of the world and how every civilization had different representations of how “money” existed. An island in the south pacific known as the yaps used stones (rai or fei stones) as a form of currency. The currency’s uniqueness compared to other countries would be if you wanted to get something you aren’t supposed to hand over the stone to someone, all you simply would do is say they have ownership of the stone and move on with your day. This was common when retrieving warriors that had been killed. The yaps would give the ownership of the stone to the people and they would get the body in return. Using the stones as a scale to make transactions, opened up many opportunities to give anything value whether it was material or a digital set of currency.
During the 1990s brazil faced high inflation percentages towards 80% a month. Such high inflation rates made buying something so casual could later be the price of a luxury good. This issue would be resolved after implementing payment installments with the introduction of URV which was a virtual currency, the currency made up of four economists that changed the entirety of a country, as a hail mary hoping the people would give it a value of what money once was. This made me realize that money can be anything as long as you establish units and what that currency can get you. For instance, if the government wanted to change their visual representation of money to glass, then all it would have to do is slowly introduce the concept. As more people start using glass they get rid of the old currency and legally establish the use of glass and engrave the purpose.
Friedman Milton’s “The Island of Stone Money” article recovers what the NPR podcast had talked about. Friedman spoke about different currencies over time and the one he focused on was the yaps from an island in the south pacific who used stone from their island nearby and used stone and gave rights to it to gain corpses or other goods. Size of the stones varied in different shapes, from sizes as small as a rock to some as big as a human. A person would simply walk over to the island nearby and collect these stones to later use for anything that accepted this currency, the idea was to give and receive.
From currency being in different shapes and forms the most common and popular one in this day and age is cryptocurrency. The currency that is commonly known that coincidentally has no physical representation would be bitcoin. The article “The Bubble Bursts on e-currency Bitcoin” published by Anne Renaut reflects the impact Bitcoin has on markets and economies. It was mentioned that bitcoin is an infrastructure of currency and how its small burst of a price increase to decrease can affect the value and shares one holds. Cryptocurrency is different from all the other currencies in that these coins can lose their value or gain overnight. By using cryptocurrency windows are opened from having different purposes, being more secure and safe to make transactions along to have different ways to store your coins. With money being different and varying in different shapes and forms and new currencies being introduced in the digital market each day, we expand the definition of what money is. it’s not your typical piece of paper, it can range from stones to cryptocurrency. Who knows what the future currency may be?
“The Invention of Stone Money” 423: The Inventionn of Stone Money. This is American Life, WBEZ. Chicago. 7 Jan 2011 https://www.thisamericanlife.org/423/the-invention-of-money
Friedman, Milton, “The Island of Stone Money” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 1991https://miltonfriedman.hoover.org/internal/media/dispatcher/215061/full
Renaut, Anne. “The bubble burst on e-currency Bitcoin” , 13 Apr. 2013 – 30 Jan 2015 https://phys.org/news/2013-04-e-currency-bitcoin.html