This weekend only, get a Marketplace zip–up hoodie when you donate $8/month. Don’t wait — this offer ends at midnight Sunday!
Au. Bling. Gilt.
No matter what you call it, the mention of gold brings a certain sparkle to the eye of most of us. But how and why did gold become the basis for much of the global economy?
Our every-now-and-then contributor Justin Rowlatt from the BBC has been working on a series called Elementary Business all about the chemical elements that make the economy go ’round. He says gold, despite being the “most charismatic of all elements,” is actually quite boring.
“It’s quite easy to see of the 118 elements there are in the periodic table, why many of them just simply wouldn’t be suitable for currency. For example, a gaseous currency? It’s never going to be that good is it? I mean, carrying around little vials of colorless gas will make it pretty hard to establish what you’ve got. Then you’ve got all these reactive elements. You don’t want an explosive currency. So it turns out the fact that gold is so uninteresting is one of the reasons why it’s so useful.”
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.