Thursday, March 28, 2013

This Saturday: The Secret Life of Money

I got invited to watch a screener of an upcoming Discovery Channel special called The Secret Life of Money, and I found it really interesting!

You deposit your money in your local bank - where does your bank deposit its money?
How are coins made? 
What does a gold ATM machine look like - and what does it dispense?
What does the new $100 bill look like?
Are you ready to say goodbye to physical money and hello to a digital-only currency?

All of this is covered, along with a lot of other stuff. One segment of the show particularly caught my attention, about an artist who makes art that looks like money - and attempts to exchange it for goods at stores around New York City. I imagine he's turned down more often than not, but his method is sparking conversations about what money really is (an agreement) and what value it inherently has (none, other than what we bestow upon it). And he's got a neat little plan for helping the store owners who take him up on it get something they can take to the bank in exchange for taking a chance on him - but you'll have to watch the show to see that. 

It sort of reminds me of the episode of 30 Rock where Liz dates her cousin, because (before they know they're related), they argue with a bodega guy about whether he has to take a $100 bill. Since it's "legal tender for all debts public and private", his "no bills over $20" is an illegal policy and those signs always used to drive me bonkers when I lived in NYC. If we can agree that these pieces of paper have value, then they should always be accepted, and if they're not accepted then they don't really have any value and so why don't we just barter something else and skip this whole carrying money around thing in the first place? 

Anyway, check out The Secret Life of Money on Saturday at 9 eastern time for all that and more. There's more about the special on the Discovery Channel website.  

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, although I did get to watch the episode ahead of its air date. I just think this is really cool!

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