Why do we trust money?

Published: Friday, Aug. 23 2013 5:00 p.m. MDT

The American flag and a sign for Wall St. are shown outside the New York Stock Exchange in this Monday, July 15, 2013, file photo.

Mark Lennihan, Associated Press

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What, exactly, is money?

“The best way to answer this question isn’t to say what money is,” said Derek Thompson, a senior business editor at The Atlantic, in a new video called What is money?

Instead, Thompson argues, we should focus on what money isn't.

The video, which is part of The Atlantic’s ongoing "Economics in Plain English" video series, explores the attributes of money, primarily what makes the average consumer or retailer trust its value.

"Money is kind of like a belief system,” Thompson says in the video, “a kind of shared religion between the buyer and seller that says, ‘I believe that this thing has value today, will have value tomorrow and that I can use it in exchange for whatever I want in the future.”

“In the end,” Thompson concludes, “the thing that makes money money is really nothing more than a little bit of faith.”

Read more about money on The Atlantic.

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