Specs of Money
Learning about Stone Money has opened my eyes to see how it correlates to “valuable” paper money we use today. My professor began class with Stone Money and I wondered to myself what he was going to talk about. He began to explain the background of money and how it wasn’t how we see money today in our century; he said many years back there was an island called the Yap Island where many natives lived but the currency they used were big limestones and it would usually be located right outside your house, many of you might be thinking how could a big limestone be used as payment?; he gave us an example of how this currency was used. So when someone wanted to buy a land or a house from the person selling it they would pay them with the limestone (the bigger the more money it was worth). However, this limestone was never moved, it would remain in the same spot where it was first put even though it was yours and everyone in the village knew it was yours there was nothing you could do about it. It sounds awful to have my money in stone be at someone else’s house and not mine but with little to no technology there was no way to move it. In this era 2017 there are no more stones considered as money; times have changed and it will keep changing. Before we used to have dollar coins now we barely do, then paper money became more existent, and now it’s cards from swiping to chipping.
Still wondering the same questions you might have about stone money I searched up the topic and all what my professor said in class was true. I could not believe the information I was absorbing while reading the article. Me wanting more information I opened up the story The Island of Stone Money by Milton Friedman, explaining how stone money became to be and how the natives would transport the stones from a mountain on a small raft across 400 miles to another island. I said to myself this is physically impossible especially with the little to no technology. Friedman explained in his article how impossible it is to move stones from one small island to another. Especially for the people living on the island to move those big rocks without any advanced technology. From reading what Friedman wrote, I analyzed that it had to be some kind of miracle for the natives to transport the stones onto the raft and unmount and roll it into town. There is still not enough data to know exactly how this brilliant or fake men did it.
Friedman tells us that once the German government bought the Caroline Islands from Spain they came to visit the natives. The Germans saw an opportunity and an advantage they could easily have upon these natives. First of all they saw that the natives idolized their stones because that was their currency and second of all the advantage was that the Germans could just easily say that the stones were theirs and make the natives work for them. The job that the German government gave the Chiefs of the natives were for the roads to be improved because most of the island was rundown. The Germans marked a big X with paint on the stones showing the natives that they were in debit and that they must complete the job if they didn’t, the Germans wouldn’t give back the stones. The natives agreed to the deal and worked until it was finished, in return the Germans rubbed off the paint and gave it back to the natives. My thoughts of reading the German’s experience was funny because in our generation stones are stones not money. However if you think about money, before money was credit/debit cards or paper slips there were stones. It is odd to think of how different our “money” was back then but we will probably say the same thing in the future.
Reading the last article with two stories involving the stones and the compromises I now have an understanding of what was used as a replacement for paper money. I began to read How Fake Money Saved Brazil the next article about the Brazil real. It said that in the 1950’s Brazil was in a deep economic crisis and inflation moving up higher than eighty percent. Brazil’s presidents were no help to the economy they just made matters worse. Each of the presidents had plans of freezing the prices so that it would not be so expensive for customers to get their items, it never worked. The downside was that store owners were not willing to sell their merchandise at a low cost because that meant they were losing so they hid everything until the prices were to unfreeze and go up again. As Chana Joffe-Walt explains how the economy turned around because of these four graduates who figured out a way to bring the economy out of inflation. The four friends pitched the idea that they came up with which was making a virtual currency that would be called Unit of real value (URV) this would let people know that this new “fake” currency was dependable and safe to use. The new currency helped inflation drop and everything became more affordable. After six months the inflation that was around eighty percent dropped to being even and equaling to a dollar. Once the economy was running smoothly Brazil made the real the official currency.
Money is a mirage, you think you know what is it and it looks so real but at the same time it’s fake and your eyes are just fooling you. Money in my opinion is considered as a substitute for trade of some goods and I have always questioned myself about money like why do we have it? Why can’t anything just be free? From payment many creations are made for example, money made the world turn to a more advanced technology era where we have touch screen cell phones, high speed computers, machines to determine if you have a certain disease and specialized fields like doctors. Now if you think about money, sure it is real and money is somewhat fake but it’s a lie that moved the world forward. First it was rocks, then papers and maybe later it will be scissors.
Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” Diss. Hoover Institution, Stanford University , 1991.
Joffe-Walt, Chana . “How Fake Money Saved Brazil.” NPR.org. 4 Oct. 2010. 30 Sept. 2017. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/10/04/130329523/how-fake-money-saved-brazil>
“The Invention of Stone Money.” 423: The Invention of Stone Money. This Is American Life, WBEZ. Chicago . 7 Jan. 2011.