Illusions Made From Paper

picture of gold bars
illusions made from paper

I have, most of my life, been puzzled by the imagined reality of money. Society started by trading food, goods and services. Then currency was invented.

In the world today we don’t have very much real money, we operate almost entirely on promises. You may imagine that the statement you get from a bank guarantees your cash – it doesn’t. There isn’t a pile of cash or gold anywhere that is large enough to supply those promises.

If you gathered all the hard currency in the world, notes and coins, it might just pay off one third of the US national debt. Your bank statement is a promise, backed by faith, but not real money or gold. Gold itself doesn’t have any great practical uses, it’s main use is jewellery, but it is rare. All the gold in the world would fit in three Olympic swimming pools. That is a lot of gold, but not nearly enough. All that gold might pay off another third of the US national debt. What about the other third? And that’s just the US.

In financial terms we have built castles made of promises. They may crumble one day.

gold bullion coins

Gold bullion coins are minted by many countries. They almost pure gold and, although the price of gold goes up and down, they are more reliable than paper promises – if you can afford them.

Published by Bruce Aiken

A maths and physics student who ran away to art college and has worked as a freelance creative ever since.

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