As a child, it didn’t take long for me to realize that money was important. After all, I saw my mom buy me food and toys all the time. Then I saw the intensity of how essential money was when I saw people with sorrowful faces stretching out their hands for spare change. That image stuck with me forever and my view on money was how much it was the center our lives. Never would I have thought that our money’s value was based on our faith and the idea of money was all in our heads.
In the media, money is often portrayed as corrupting and controlling. Yet, according to Brazilian’s economic history, money is actually controlled by people’s faith. For instance, Brazil once faced economic crisis because of a huge inflation. According to NPR Broadcast’s “The Invention of Money,” the government printed too much money, which lowered the value of it and made it difficult for the citizens to afford goods. A memorable story from the broadcast was when people rushed in to buy food before the sticker man placed the changed prices. You could image the horror of having your cash loosing its value each day; people lost faith in their currency.
The surprising solution to this was introducing fake money, called Unit of Real Value, urv for short. By making the prices of the items in urv, the pricing was able to stabilize. Gradually, more people started to use the fake money and have more trust in the currency. As a result, urv became the official type of money and people were able afford things. In other words, this plan of using fake money worked because people had faith it, which showed to me how much power people had over money.
While Brazil suffered inflation, Japan experienced the opposite. Japan had a problem where people were not spending enough money, making the economy slow. In Hiroko Tabuchi’s article, “Japan Approves $116 Billion for Urgent Economic Stimulus,” it stated that the government was “pumping more money into the economy” so that the Japanese people could spend more. Though Japan is already in debt, Japan has a lot of problems to overcome such as the shrinking population and income. Consequently, the government is doing their best efforts give people a better income and more job opportunities by spending even more money. Clearly, the value of money in a country is heavily weighted on the people.
Another thing I realized is the idea of money is just in our minds. For example, according to the broadcast there is this island called Yap, and the civilians there use stone sculptures as currency. What is interesting about their type of currency is that it doesn’t have to move at all for people to own it. For instance, if the stone was too heavy to carry, people would just switch the ownership and the stone could stay at the same spot. There was an incident, where one of the heavy stones fell to the bottom of the ocean and was lost but it was still accepted as valuable so the owner stayed rich. I thought that the people should at least be skeptical. After all, what if he lied about making the huge stone, what if it doesn’t exist. But then I soon realized how much of my money didn’t exist as well.
The NPR broadcaster did a wonderful job at demonstrating how much of the money in America did not exist when he asked how much money is out there. People couldn’t even count that because the money in the bank is given to other people to borrow. What we truly have is only a number on a piece of paper or on a computer system of the amount we have, but physically we do not own it.
Ultimately, I find it really scary that the amount of money we technically own isn’t physically out there as ours but I am also relieved that when things go wrong, people are the one who truly accept and decide the value of money.
Joffe-Walt, Chana. “How Fake Money Saved Brazil.” Npr.org. NPR, 4 Oct. 2010. Web. 6 Sept. 2015
Krugman, Paul. “The Curious Case of Japan’s Economic Stimulus.”Truthout. Truthout, 22 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.
Tabuchi, Hiroko. “Japan Approves $116 Billion for Urgent Economic Stimulus.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 10 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.
“The Invention of Money | This American Life.” This American Life. N.p., 7 Jan. 2011. Web. 04 Sept. 2015.