The Crazy Idea Of Money
Since the first introduction of Stone Money, I have dove deeper and deeper into what money is. It comes in many forms, from paper, a number on a screen, to coins made of metals, precious metals, and so on. They are all forms of currency used for trading goods and services. As in The Island Of Stone Money, “the stone doesn’t move. It’s just that everybody in the village knows the stone now has a new owner.” This is similar to online banking, numbers on a screen move but that’s it. There is no actual movement of anything, just a few numbers on a digital banking app. Throughout the last week or so, I thought about how people get paid through direct deposit paychecks. You put in hours of work in a normal nine to five workday, to see an increase in numbers. Most people try and get in as many hours as they can, never satisfied with how much they really have, everyone wants more. The more money you have, the more things that you can do, the more “clubs” you can join, and access to a “higher” way of living, and how that determines what class you are in. Whether it be lower class, middle class, or upper class, which determine how much power you have in society. With money, comes power. Now, you likely won’t see someone in the lower class become president. You need funding to achieve your goals and get the attention of others, or to get your ideas out to the public.
When I really went into it, money was solely fiction. It is backed by a flag or a government and how much of it there is. Depending on where it comes from, depends on what you can get with it. One U.S dollar in New Jersey can get you a small bag of candy, where One U.S dollar in Venezuela can get you about 30 rolls of sweet or normal bread. While here, you can get a 32 pack of King’s Hawaiian Original Dinner Rolls for $5.68. Different countries take different forms of currencies, and to convert one into another, you do so based off of inflation rates and international exchange rates, which change often, even up to multiple times a day. Currency is never at a standstill of how much it actually is. In 1900, the buying power of $100 today was about $3,347, an inflation rate of 2.92% every year. If currency was at a standstill, you could buy yourself a Honda Civic almost fully loaded for around $1,000, instead, now it is more than $25,000.
My understanding of money has certainly changed with the knowledge I have been given. Money is never at a standstill, it’s value changes multiple times a day. What you think is yours is never truly yours, and can lose it’s value at any given moment, such as the Great Depression or the collapse of the housing market in 2008. Whether it be a shortage or too sharp of an increase your true buying power is never the same. Such as the shortage of computer chips in cars increased the prices in most newly manufactured cars. Large scale global affairs can also have a serious effect on what you can and cannot purchase, such as the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, or Taiwan and China, and what these countries export to the United States. Any small inconvenience can change the value of currency. The Federal Reserve has a huge impact on what happens with currency, and is supposed to do what is best for the United States economy. While most of the time they try to solve problems, they often start them too, In the podcast, 423: The Invention of Money with Ira Glass, Caitlin Kenney, Jacob Goldstein, Dave Kestenbaum, and George Selgin, they speak about the Federal Reserve and different aspects of money, “the Fed is like a fireman who gets credit for putting out fires that he helped start.” says Selgin. Like with the collapse of the housing market in 2008 which caused the displacement of about 10 million Americans. All because borrowers were defaulting on mortgages in high numbers, causing the collapse of the stock market and beginning the global Great Recession. While the Federal Reserve is not entirely to blame for this, it caused multiple problems that took time to fix, “ the Fed announced that it would purchase US agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and the debt of housing related US government agencies” (Rich) this resulted in a plan to buy up $500 billion in agency MBS and around $100 billion in agency debt, but where would this money come from? The money comes from either open market operations or simply, using new money from this and lending money, one big loop of circulation.
With all of that, money is extremely confusing on where it comes from, what it is backed by, and what controls its true value at certain times. Whether it be a government, inflation, or global affairs. My understanding of money has completely shifted, from what it used to be. It isn’t just a number on a digital banking app, it is something that is international and some of my money may even be lent out somewhere I may never know. Money will never hold it’s true value for more than a few days, and that is a long shot. It’s true value can change multiple times a day. The buying power you hold never stays the same, it can increase and decrease and you can lose it all in a matter of moments. Not even investing your money into stocks, gold, or silver can save you, just another loop of constant increasing and decreasing. Money is nothing more than a simple fantasy that is either a couple pieces of paper or a specific number on a digital banking app on a screen. Why isn’t there just one international currency with a fixed rate?
Glass, I. Walt, C. Blumberg, A. Kestenbaum, D. January 7, 2011. The Invention of Money. Chicago, Illinois. This American Life
Goldstein, J. & Kestenbaum, D. December 10, 2010. The Island of Stone Money. Washington, D.C. NPR
Bloomberg Linea. (2021, August 18). What can you buy in Venezuela with one dollar? Bloomberg Linea. Retrieved February 15, 2022, from https://www.bloomberglinea.com/2021/08/17/what-can-you-buy-in-venezuelan-with-one-dollar/