Introduction to Money (01:10)
Learn the cultural, social and economic importance of currency.
Money and Wealth (01:31)
Economic experts describe the function and role of money in society.
Forms of Money (01:19)
There are 160 currencies worldwide. Bank notes are only worth the paper and ink used to produce them; learn about virtual currencies of the future.
Goods as Currency (01:33)
In economies of scarcity, any goods can become money. Natural objects such as cigarettes were used for barter in post-war Europe, but their real value was unknown.
Overcoming the Double Coincidence (01:46)
Learn how money was developed to make bartering more efficient. A Mexico City market shows why it's a practical solution for trading goods.
Early Currencies (01:01)
Learn how salt, cocoa beans, furs, jewelry and cowry shells were used for trading goods.
Coin Currencies (02:14)
Learn why humans began using metal money and view early Greek models in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum collection.
Coin Valuation System (01:53)
The first metal coins appeared 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece and the state guaranteed their value according to metal price. Since the 19th century, coins of greater value than their metal have been produced.
Producing Coins (01:05)
Learn how designers emboss a large metal version of each coin to test its appearance.
Banknote Currency (03:02)
Paper money replaced inefficient coins in 14th century China. The Bank of England began using banknotes in the 1700s, secured with gold reserves that maintained trust in the economic system for centuries.
Printing Banknotes (02:44)
Central banks keep gold reserves today. Learn how the ECB controls the euro’s value through production and uses security features to protect against forgery.
Money Theft (01:36)
Banknotes are lighter and easier to steal than coins. View footage of Edwin S. Porter's 1903 silent film "The Great Train Robbery" and learn about Ronald Biggs' robbery of a British money transport train in 1962.
Money Security Measures (02:49)
Learn how armored vehicles transport cash from central to commercial banks. Damaged coins and banknotes are withdrawn from circulation and destroyed.
Hawala System (03:05)
90% of currency today exists as numbers and line items. Learn how Middle Eastern traders developed a way of transporting large amounts of money using certificates and trust—the basis of bank accounts.
Banking Origins (02:09)
14th century Florence developed the hawala system into monetary institutions, facilitated by Leonardo Fibonacci's adoption of Hindi numbers. The Medici Family promoted wealth and founded the financial industry.
Financial Service Industry (02:28)
Geneva has the highest density of investment banks worldwide. Learn their role in the economy and how deposits and loans work to create more money.
Speculation and Greed (02:09)
Learn how money has moved away from currency to immaterial products in the financial economy. An expert discusses perceptions of profit and the ethics of using money to create more money.
Economic Inequality (01:47)
Wealth is meaningless without goods. Experts discuss the role of money in increasing income gaps.
Investment Currency (01:46)
In 2006, Warren Buffet gave the majority of his $40 billion fortune to the Bill Gates Foundation. His wealth is in shares, rather than currency; learn why it would be detrimental to cash that much money at once.
Understanding Inflation (02:28)
Too much money or too little goods leads to an artificial price increase, causing money to lose value. Learn how catastrophes and war can lead to economic collapse, such as in Germany in 1923.
Money and Inequality (02:19)
Despite economic growth, most of India's population has no access to prosperity. Experts discuss how wealth gaps are inevitable in organized societies.
Managing Debt (03:22)
Poverty is also affecting Europeans. Debt often leads to bankruptcy; learn the consequences of losing one's bank account and meet employees of a nonprofit bank helping clients with financial recovery.
Living without Money (01:46)
Barter system experiments occur periodically, but experts believe currency is a fundamental part of trade, society and economy.
De-materialization of Money (02:04)
Edward Bellamy predicted credit cards in his 1888 novel "Looking Backward." Invented in the U.S. in 1924, spending became easier because currency was no longer present during transactions.
Virtual Money Trend (01:41)
Learn advantages and disadvantages of cash-less shopping, and recent technological payment inventions. Experts predict that currency will decrease in the future, but money will always exist.
Credits: Mussels, Coins, and Posting Lines: The Cultural History of Money (00:41)
Credits: Mussels, Coins, and Posting Lines: The Cultural History of Money
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