The Corner

Purple Money?

If I wanted to use purple money, I’d move to a banana republic:

Paper money has no intrinsic value, it can’t be redeemed for gold or silver, you can’t even make jewelry out of it. There’s nothing behind it but the people’s confidence in it, and when the government keeps changing its appearance, as it has with the successive redesigns over the past several years, that confidence is undermined. Anti-counterfeiting measures are also vital to that goal, of course, but the more obvious those measures are (as opposed to, say , micro-printing and the like), the more they actually undermine the ostensible goal of buttressing faith in the currency. And it’s not just confidence in the money itself that suffers, but the public’s broader confidence in the stability of our institutions — how many people have said to themselves since the permanent, rolling process of changing our paper money started in the mid-1990s, “Jeez, even our dollars are starting to look like Monopoly money.”


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