How the US once had thousands of different types of money : The Indicator from Planet Money In the mid-1800s, the US had 8,370 kinds of money. How that happened, and what it meant for the US economy.

The Birth Of The Greenback

The Birth Of The Greenback

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Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images
A member of a group of 228 immigrants deported from the United States shows a 20-dollar bill before exchanging it upon arrival at the Air Force base in Guatemala City / AFP PHOTO / JOHAN ORDONEZ (Photo credit should read JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images)
Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images

Back in the mid-1800s, there was no single national paper currency in the United States. The government didn't print money. But pretty much any bank could.

As a result, there were a lot of different kinds of money floating about the US back then. At one point the Chicago Tribune counted 8,370 different kinds of paper money in America

Planet Money's Jacob Goldstein has written a book called Money: The True Story of a Made-Up Thing. Today he joins the Indicator to talk about how you can even have that many kinds of money and what it tells us about how money works.

Link to Jacob's Book, Money: The True Story of a Made Up Thing

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