Paper Promises Book Summary - Paper Promises Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Paper Promises summary

Philip Coggan

Money, Debt and the New World Order

4.2 (13 ratings)
13 mins
7 key ideas
Audio & text

What is Paper Promises about?

Paper Promises offers a sobering take on the nature of money, the recent global financial crisis and what our attitudes about debt will mean for future generations.

About the Author

Philip Coggan is a columnist at The Economist and has written a number of books, including The Money Machine and The Economist Guide to Hedge Funds. For 20 years he has also worked at The Financial Times, most recently as investment editor.

Table of Contents

    Paper Promises
    summarized in 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    Bartering a loaf for a lamb was how trade was done in early times. Today, money moves markets.

    If money is just ink on paper, why is it that we worship it so? The answer rests in how we use it.

    Money’s primary function is as a medium of exchange. Before we used money, deals were settled through bartering. If you were a baker, for example, and you wanted a pair of pants or a leg of lamb, you could find a shepherd and trade. If you gave him 100 loaves of bread, he’d give you a lamb.

    But what if the shepherd had no need for bread? You’d then have to find something he did want, perhaps a new knife. You’d then have to find a blacksmith (who needs bread) to make the knife, which you could trade for the lamb.

    Trying to find the right thing to trade could lead to some intricate, time-consuming bartering. Money cuts through this confusion: if you want something, you simply exchange it for money, which the seller can then use to buy something else. The transaction is simple, and direct.

    Money also functions as a unit of account, or a means of measuring a product’s value.

    To trade an item, we need to understand its worth. Bartering makes this difficult. Could you say accurately how many lambs one knife is worth? Or does it depend on the needs and resources of the shepherd and the blacksmith?

    Money makes valuation easy, as beforehand its value is agreed upon.

    Finally, money can be used to store value, for example, by maintaining the value of a specific product.

    Most of the world’s countries keep the value of their money more or less stable to foster investment and prevent inflation, in which prices rise but the value of money decreases.

    Understanding money’s many functions is essential to understanding the way it can influence the economy and society.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Paper Promises?

    Key ideas in Paper Promises

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    Best quote from Paper Promises

    Modern money is debt, and debt is money.

    —Philip Coggan
    example alt text

    Who should read Paper Promises

    • Anyone who is deeply in debt
    • Students of history and economics
    • Older generations who struggle to understand why young people have so much debt

    Categories with Paper Promises

    What our members say

    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    Start growing with Blinkist now
    25 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    Of Blinkist members create a better reading habit*
    *Based on survey data from Blinkist customers
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 5,500+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial