Five reporters stumbled on what seems like a basic question: What is money? The unsettling answer they found: Money is fiction.
Sounds interesting? The radio series This American Life first aired The Invention of Money, in early 2011. Its a free delight to listen to (and a 99 cent download to keep). Learn fascinating facts such as: Though the name of the Federal Reserve includes the word "federal," it's not actually part of the government. It's an independent institution tasked with something very simple, but very huge: Creating money out of thin air. Photo: Maria Toutoudaki/Getty Images