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Money is…?

Knowing the past can inspire us to reinvent old ideas

Photo of Diana Vieira Fernandes
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Quite often people tend to forget where and why things comes from. Sometimes, knowing the past can inspire us to avoid similar pitfalls in the future or reinvent old ideas.

“Let's start with what moneyis used for. Modern economists typically define it by thethree roles it plays in an economy: 

It’s a store of value, meaning that money allows you to defer consumption until a later date. 

It’s aunit of account, meaning that it allows you to assign a value to different goods without having to compare them. So instead of saying that a Rolex watch is worth six cows, you can just say it (or the cows) cost $10 000.

And it’s a medium of exchange—an easy and efficient way for you and me and others to trade goods and services with one another.

All of these roles have to do with buying and selling, and that’s how the modern world thinks of money—so much so that it seems peculiar to conceive of money in any other way.”*

Going back in time…

How do we get here?

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, Niall Ferguson 

British Museum exhibition

Money | The Citi Money Gallery | Room 68

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Online content:,_saving_and_borrowing.aspx 


Join the conversation:

Photo of Diana Vieira Fernandes

Thanks André and Anne-Laure, great insight.
Only a small fraction of money is "tangible" and somehow the Greek example shows that money is a mediate thing to get something else. People don´t need money as an end in itself and money is only good until people trust and accept it for payments.

Photo of André Fernandes

Hi Diana, nice insight about reflect what's the role of money as exchange value! Check this inspiring idea about bartering as an alternative to financial crisis in Greece:

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks André for referring to my post. I thought of mentioning it not only as a system used for the current crisis but also because of the historical reference: bartering is what people used before developing money. I was in London last weekend and went to the British Museum and did go to the gallery 68 on the history of Money. One thing that I found very interesting was how money has become less and less tangible. In some cases, you don't even swipe your card, tapping is enough...