Different Kinds of Money. Различные виды денег

In prisoner-of-war camps, cigarettes served as money. In the 19th century money was mainly gold and silver coins. These are examples ofcommodity money, ordinary goods with industrial uses (gold) and consumption uses (cigarettes), which also serve as a medium of exchange. To use a commodity money, society must either cut back on other uses of that commodity or devote scarce resources to producing additional quantities of the commodity. But there are less expensive ways for society to produce money.

A token money is a means of payment whose value or purchasing power as money greatly exceeds its cost of production or value in uses other than as money.

A $10 note is worth far more as money than as a 3x6 inch piece of high-quality paper. Similarly, the monetary value of most coins exceeds the amount you would get by melting them down and selling off the metals they contain. By collectively agreeing to use token money, society economizes on the scarce resources required to produce money as a medium of exchange. Since the manufacturing costs are tiny, why doesn't everyone make $10 notes?

The essential condition for the survival of token money is the restriction of the right to supply it. Private production is illegal.

Society enforces the use of token money by making it legal tender. The law says it must be accepted as a means of payment.

In modem economies, token money is supplemented by 10 U money.

An IOU money is a medium of exchange based on the debt of a private firm or individual.

A bank deposit is IOU money because it is a debt of the bank. When you have a bank deposit the bank owes you money. You can write a cheque to yourself or a third party and the bank is obliged to pay whenever the cheque is presented. Bank deposits are a medium of exchange because they arc generally accepted as payment.


The following story is going to explain the role of banks. In the past most societies used different objects as money. Some of these were valuable because they were rare and beautiful, others- because they could be eaten or used. Early forms of money like these were used to buy goods. They were also used to pay for marriages, fines and debts. But although everyday objects were extremely practical kinds of cash in many ways, they had some disadvantages, too. For example, it was difficult to measure their value accurately, divide some of them into a wide range of amounts, keep some of them for a long time, use them to make financial plans for the future. For reasons such as these, some societies began to use another kind of money, that is, precious metals.

People used gold, gold bullion, as money. Those were dangerous times, and people wanted a safe place to keep their gold. So they deposited it with goldsmiths, people who worked with gold for jewellery and so on and also had a guarded vault to keep it safe in. And when people wanted some of their gold to pay for things with, they went and fetched it from the goldsmith.

Two developments turned these goldsmiths into bankers. The first was that people found it a lot easier to give the seller a letter than it was to fetch some gold and then physically hand it over to him. This letter transferred some of the gold they had at the goldsmith's to the seller. This letter we would nowadays call a cheque. And, of course, once these letters or cheques, became acceptable as a way of paying for goods, people felt that the gold they had deposited with the goldsmith, was just as good as gold in their own pockets. And as letters or cheques, were easier to carry around than gold, and a lot less dangerous, people started to say that their money holdings were what they had with them plus their deposits. So a system of deposits was started. The second development was that goldsmiths realized they had a great deal of unused gold lying in their vaults doing nothing. This development was actually of greater importance than the first.

Now let's turn to the first bank loan ever and see what happened. A firm asked a goldsmith for a loan. The goldsmith realized that some of the gold in his vault could be lent to the firm, and of course he asked the firm to pay it back later with a little interest. Of course, at that moment the goldsmith was short of gold, it wasn't actually his gold, but he reckoned it was unlikely that everyone who had deposited gold with him would want it back at the same time, at any rate – not before the firm had repaid him his gold with a little interest. He thought it safe enough.

To understand what actually happened in. this simple transaction let's consider the following table.

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