There is a very well know saying that states “money makes the world go round”. Currency or money, in my opinion, is the “root to all evil” but at the same time, we couldn’t live without it. We all know that money comes in different forms. There’s the US dollar, the Euro and sometimes other forms like cryptocurrencies. The way that most of the world looks at money today is mainly through numbers. Think about it. In the United States say an employee gets their paycheck which is around 20$. That 20$ gets transferred right into your bank account. In most situations, the United States money is in the hand of the banks and never physically in someone’s possession. That’s when I heard about the island of Yap. A whole new way to look at money.
In the Western Pacific Island of Yap, the world “currency” is slightly different than our definition of the word. This form of currency isn’t your average paper note. The Island of Stone Money,” explains that the currency is a giant limestone disc. Some discs “diameter can measure a foot or twelve feet, each with varying sizes of holes in the middle.” In fact, this form of currency is a “really heavy” “big piece that could weigh more than a car”. Although unusual this form of money does share some similarities with the currency that all modern countries use today.
Currency in Yap is a “big limestone disc” because of this the currency isn’t exactly easy to move. Because of this money isn’t tosses and transported around like in the United States. In fact, an NPR article called ” The Island Of Stone Money” stated that “They often talk about the stones themselves not changing hands at all”. Meaning that if I wanted a stone and it was on someone else’s property I could own the Rai or Fei (stone currency) without physically transporting it to another place.
Now let’s talk about the United States. At one point in time, France wanted gold from the United States. The United States didn’t want to physically send over the gold to the French but instead, the United States kept in its possession and just labeled it as Frances gold. France accepted this offer and instantly showed the public how valuable currency can be. The physical item doesn’t actually have to be in the possession of a nation, state or person just assigned to that person.
Continuing our conversation on the United States this brings me into another point on how the United States runs currency in their country and honestly it isn’t very different than the yaps. As stated in “The Invention of Money” the United States uses the “federal reserve bank” to hold all of our money. They also have to ability to create money. The Yaps do this the same way. They can make a new limestone disc and have it not really affect the everyday lives of people. When the United States creates money everyone’s money is still reserved under the FDIC. Similarly, the word of the people keeps these discs possessed properly on the island of Yap.
Friedman, Milton. “The Island of Stone Money.” The Island of Stone Money(1991): 3-7. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.
Glass, Ira, Chana Joffe-Walt, Alex Blumberg, and Dave Kestenbaum. “423: The Invention of Money.” This American Life. Prod. Planet Money. 7 Jan. 2011. This American Life. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.
Goldstein, Jacob, and David Kestenbaum. “The Island Of Stone Money.” NPR, NPR, 10 Dec. 2010, http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/02/15/131934618/the-island-of-stone-money.