Something I have come to realise about money is that the more you come into direct contact with it, the less alluring it becomes. That may sound like a hollow platitude, but when your history of paid work has predominately involved handling thousands of pounds through face to face transactions and back office duties, the worthlessness of fiat currency burrows into your psyche.
That is not a fatuous comment. I recognise that the entity I proclaim to be worthless is the same entity that allows me to eat and to sleep with a roof over my head. Nevertheless, it is not as simple as surmising that it is the intrinsic value of money that grants the ability to exchange funds for goods. Money has no intrinsic value as I came to discover.
This time two years ago I secured a job working in the cash office of a UK supermarket. It was an opportunity that came about just as I had begun to question the true nature and value of money.
My perception of cash changed on coming across a postcard pack published by the Bank of England called, ‘Your Money: What the Bank Does‘. The pack is no longer available through the bank’s revamped website, but fortunately I downloaded a copy before it was taken down.
Contained within the pack is a section titled, ‘Banknotes and the Promise to Pay‘. Here, the bank offers up a compelling question:
What gives modern banknotes their face value, when they cost only a few pence to make?
The answer may or may not surprise you:
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