Paper money backed by debt is worthless.
If I grew a field of barley, and you drew upon a blank piece of paper a picture of a clown, wrote the number 1000 on it then presented me with it for my barley, I would reject your “money” thinking you were a clown. Yet, you give me paper with the picture of the UK Queen on I would accept your “money”. Both clown and queen are only paper, but I am caught in the illusion the paper with the queen is worth something.
The British paper currency is a promise, with a meaningless printed statement upon it “I promise to pay the bearer…. “ a number and a word “pounds”; both abstract values and words that can mean anything. Originally the paper currency was tied to gold so you had a tangible commodity of value supporting it. Times have moved on, no longer is currency backed by gold, in fact the British government would be unable to support all the paper currency it printed with the assets it owns. The meaninglessness of currency is further debased with the introduction of base metal in place of paper for lower denominations, then plastic cards tied to anonymous computer databases.
Most world governments play another cunning trick by creating debt, declaring debt as an asset and then linking this to their currency. It would seem then when the next person comes along to present me with paper with the queens head upon it for my field of barley, then what I am getting is paper with the collateral of negative value debt behind it rather than gold. I joyfully accept this paper for my tangible barley, then I wonder who is the real clown.