The End of Money | David Wolman

Summary of: The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers–and the Coming Cashless Society
By: David Wolman


Welcome to the fascinating world of ‘The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers–and the Coming Cashless Society’ written by David Wolman. The book explores the history, evolution, and eventual demise of physical currency, delving into the drawbacks of cash, from manufacturing costs to its role in criminal activity. Furthermore, it investigates the rise of electronic payment systems and how they have revolutionized the way we live and work, heralding an age of digital transactions that promise to transform the world economy.

The Future of Currency

The world of money is evolving, and physical currency is becoming obsolete for several reasons. While cash is the most common form of money, its production comes with costs that some argue outweigh its benefits. Government debt and the rise of alternative payment methods have led some to question the viability of physical currency altogether. Inflation has rendered many coins useless, prompting calls for governments to stop minting them. Nonetheless, since it costs less for governments to produce bills than their face value, they still profit off of manufacturing money. Some economists have even pointed out that money is essentially a fiction, and that the whole financial system relies on this construction. Advocates of digital currency argue that it is more secure, trustworthy, and useful in an increasingly digital world. As technology continues to advance, the future of currency will be a hotly debated topic.

The End of Physical Currency

Glenn Guest, a minister at Shiloh Baptist Church in Georgia, claims that the elimination of physical currency is a sign of Satan’s impending takeover of commerce. In his book, Steps Toward the Mark of the Beast, Guest argues that digital transactions will be “knowable to Satan,” making them a tool for the devil to control commerce. He also points out the possibility of implanted microchips that will replace credit cards for personal commerce. Guest believes that the US has been on the wrong path about money ever since it abandoned the gold standard, and the dollar no longer has real worth. He cites the biblical Book of Revelation as evidence that Jesus will soon return to Earth and eliminating hard currency is one such omen. With alarming fervor, Guest preaches that the devil will try to take over commerce in the “end of days” to come.

The Surprising History of Paper Money

During the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century, the emperor introduced paper money made of mulberry trees, quickly taking the place of coins. The easily exchangeable, fully redeemable paper money significantly boosted commerce and trade across China. The currency amazed people such as Marco Polo, who mentioned it in his travelogue. The fact that each note claimed to maintain its value “for all eternity” fascinated him.

The Evolution of Money

Money has taken many forms throughout human history, from feathers to coins. Today, it enables efficient trade and allows people to specialize in their skills. Coins became a standard feature in societies across the globe, providing a tangible testament to state power. More than half of the bank deposits in Latin America are denominated in US dollars. Although dictionaries define money in a dull manner, people have a strong passion for it and will do almost anything to protect it. Cash has a tremendous visceral power that can evoke an emotional response, despite its insignificance. As long as people do not start using greenbacks as handkerchiefs, the germs on cash or coins should die a quick death. Money’s primary functions are as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value, and a method of deferred payment.

The History of Paper Currency in the US

In early America, the Massachusetts Bay Colony issued “bills of credit” that certified money was real. However, the Continental Congress decided against paper money, with one delegate comparing it to the “Mark of the Beast.” During the Civil War, greenbacks were issued worth $450 million, but the Supreme Court Justice ultimately declared them illegal. It was later overturned by another Supreme Court decision, marking the beginning of paper money in the US and questioning the validity of centralized currencies.

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