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Julian Sara Joseph

Ascent of Money -by Niall Ferguson - Chapter 1 Report

2 min read

There were apparently communities that survived without cash. No, not cashless. They just lived like uncivilised humans who raided fertile women and animals from one another. The Incas preferred using ‘Labour’ as a unit of value, while Nukak-Makú had no use of money. The cruel annihilation of the Inca empire by the Spaniards who outnumbered them underlined how it was the love of riches which caused wars since time immemorial(the 1500s here). This lust, however, was incomprehensible to a race living peacefully in the caves of Peru, without money.

I was appalled at the fate of these indigenous folks of the mountains. The lust of the West for silver found in these regions led to the depletion of their entire population! Every peso coin was worth the life of 10 Indians who were maimed and eventually killed in the process of mining and processing silver from the ore to make coins and bars.

What they(Western countries) failed to get, even after years of waging war against such wealthy lands was that beyond a point, even those coins depreciated in value, due to the decline in silver stocks after its mass production. Money was only worth what one is willing to pay.

During this time, the Middle East equated “clay tablets” to the silver coins in Europe, while those in the Maldives used “cowrie shells” and those in the islands of Yap, huge stone discs. Today, it is just paper or virtual (nothing but numbers on a screen). Why? Because it doesn’t matter what we use to represent money. 

Money is simply trust inscribed. Trust/belief/faith. We trust those who pay us, those who employ us, those who work for us.