Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Book Review: Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing by Jacob Goldstein (audiobook)

If you like the Planet Money podcast, you might have already heard about this book because Jacob Goldstein is a co-host, and I know he told one story from this book in brief on the sister podcast, The Indicator (which is where I first heard about it.) And if you like Planet Money, you should definitely listen to this, because it's like a super-long podcast, which is awesome!

Mr. Goldstein goes back to the beginning--when we decided silver and gold were the things we should use as money, when we came up with the concept of lumps of metal with images stamped on them (aka coins)--one "coin" I liked was the super-absurd daler in Sweden which was a slab of copper more than 2 feet long that weighed 43 pounds--and how we got from there to bitcoin. There's a long discussion of the gold standard and getting off of it, a really excellent point about why paper money can never really work in an absolute monarchy, and why people at the top of government disagreeing about what constitutes money and how it works, is a very good thing (keeps everyone in check). 

Even as the daughter of an economist, I learned a lot of fun new things, and this was a delightful romp through history up through to modern day. A perfect short book for these pandemic times when we need distraction without too much pedantry.

I downloaded this digital audiobook from Libby/Overdrive through my local library.

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