The economic essence of money
History of money and barter. Medium for exchange. The first coins. The first European currencies. Single currencies in history. 20th century currencies in Europe, economic characteristics. Medium of exchange, unit of account, commodity money, liquidity.
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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Money has not always come from cash machines at banks. It has a long history and has developed over thousands of years. As our society has developed, so our need for more sophisticated types of money has developed in parallel, as is described here.
The history of money shows us that it is a medium of exchange for trade. It can be a medium of exchange because it has a clear value that is trusted by everyone.
Money is also a way to store value for the future. Finally, money is also a unit of account. It can be counted easily and it enables a clear value to be given to goods.
Until recent times, money was based solely on coins. This was because a coin contained a precise weight of a metal, such as gold or silver, that had a known value. This type of money is known as 'specie money' and its value is guaranteed by the precious metal it contains. As trade increased, more and more money was needed as a medium of exchange. Therefore, banks and governments began issuing banknotes.Banknotes do not contain the value they represent. Instead, the issuer of a banknote guarantees its value. This is known as 'fiat money'.
Money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts. The main uses of money are as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value. Some authors explicitly require money to be a standard of deferred payment.
The term "price system" is sometimes used to refer to methods using commodity valuation or money accounting systems.
The word "money" is believed to originate from a temple of Hera, located on Capitoline, one of Rome's seven hills. In the ancient world Hera was often associated with money. The temple of Juno Moneta at Rome was the place where the mint of Ancient Rome was located.. The name "Juno" may derive from the Etruscan goddess Uni (which means "the one", "unique", "unit", "union", "united") and "Moneta" either from the Latin word "monere" (remind, warn, or instruct) or the Greek word "moneres" (alone, unique).
CHAPTER 2. ANALYSIS, FINDINGS
2.1 History of money. Barter
Many thousands of years ago, our European ancestors lived as hunters and farmers. Metals had not been discovered, so they hunted and farmed with stone tools - this time was known as the Stone Age. Stone Age men and women did not have the banknotes and coins that we use today. Instead, they would exchange goods with each other: for example, a hunter could exchange animal skins with a farmer for grain, or a fisherman could exchange decorative seashells for a polished stone axe with a hunter. This exchange is known as barter. An important feature of barter is that it involves the exchange of goods that have value.
2.2 A medium for exchange
When our ancestors learned how to make metals then exchanges became easier.
This is because metals, such as gold silver, tin and iron, were valuable to everyone. So, a farmer could barter his cattle for a certain weight of silver, then later, the farmer could use some of this silver to pay his taxes. In this way, valuable metals and other objects became a 'measure of value', a 'medium of exchange' and a way to 'store value' until it is needed.
2.3 The first coins
Around 2600 years ago, the first coins were made in Asia Minor.
The ancient Greeks quickly adopted this new idea and started producing silver and bronze coins, for example the silver drachma. These early coins contained a specified weight of metal with a certain value. And to guarantee this weight, the coins were stamped with a seal by the king or city or country that issued them. Coins were convenient because they could be counted rather than weighed. Because these new coins were a trusted and efficient 'medium of exchange' they helped greatly increase trade in the ancient world.
2.4 The first European currencies
To guarantee the value of coins, kings and governments strictly controlled their production.In ancient Rome, coin production was done in the temple of Juno Moneta - which is where the word 'money' comes from. Later, as the Roman Empire expanded, other mints were opened and the same roman coins were accepted for exchange all across Europe, from the British Isles to Turkey - the first pan-European currency. Later, as the Roman Empire broke up and the nations of Europe began to appear, each country kept control of its own coinage. It was from these European nations that we inherited the many coins and currencies that existed before the euro. These were often named after units of measure, such as the Italian lira and the Finnish markka, because the coins originally contained a fixed amount of gold and silver. A problem with many currencies is that, depending on the success of individual economies, the exchange rate between the currencies can vary a lot - this makes trade between countries a risky business, so it is discouraged.
2.5 Single currencies in history
Before the euro, monetary unions with single currencies were tried in Europe.
The Latin Monetary Union united France, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece and Bulgaria in 1867 with gold and silver coins, and a Scandinavian Monetary Union was established in 1875. One reason why these unions failed was because the price of gold varied with respect to silver - destabilising the currencies. One successful monetary union was that of the German Federation. A customs union was completed by 1834 and currency exchange rates fixed. Then came a single currency, the Reichsmark, the forerunner of the Deutschmark. German monetary union succeeded partly because clear rules were in place on how to produce the coins.
2.6 20th century currencies in Europe
Before the euro was introduced most European countries had their own coins and banknotes their own currency.For travel and trade, it was necessary to change money as you changed country. In Germany you paid in Deutschmarks, if you left Germany and travelled to France you had to exchange your Deutschmarks for French Francs, and so on.
The names of Europe's old currencies often revealed something about their origins:
? The schilling, used in Austria, was named after a mark on a stick used for counting.
? The tolar used in Slovenia comes from the medieval coin, the thaler, first minted in the Czech Republic in 1518 - the name 'thaler' is the origin of the term 'dollar' in the USA.
? The name of the Greek drachma means 'handful' and refers to a handful of six metal bars that were used as currency before the drachma was introduced in ancient Greece.
? The franc, meaning 'free' in French, was first minted in the 14th century to pay the ransom for the French King John the Good.
2.7 Economic characteristics
Money is generally considered to have the following characteristics, which are summed up in a rhyme found in older economics textbooks: "Money is a matter of functions four, a medium, a measure, a standard, a store." That is, money functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a standard of deferred payment, and a store of value.
There have been many historical arguments regarding the combination of money's functions, some arguing that they need more separation and that a single unit is insufficient to deal with them all. One of these arguments is that the role of money as a medium of exchange is in conflict with its role as a store of value: its role as a store of value requires holding it without spending, whereas its role as a medium of exchange requires it to circulate. Others argue that storing of value is just deferral of the exchange, but does not diminish the fact that money is a medium of exchange that can be transported both across space and time. 'Financial capital' is a more general and inclusive term for all liquid instruments, whether or not they are a uniformly recognized tender.
2.8 Medium of exchange
Money is used as an intermediary for trade, in order to avoid the inefficiencies of a barter system, which are sometimes referred to as the 'double coincidence of wants problem'. Such usage is termed a medium of exchange.
2.9 Unit of account
A unit of account is a standard numerical unit of measurement of the market value of goods, services, and other transactions. Also known as a "measure" or "standard" of relative worth and deferred payment, a unit of account is a necessary prerequisite for the formulation of commercial agreements that involve debt.
?Divisible into small units without destroying its value; precious metals can be coined from bars, or melted down into bars again.
?Fungible: that is, one unit or piece must be perceived as equivalent to any other, which is why diamonds, works of art or real estate are not suitable as money.
?A specific weight, or measure, or size to be verifiably countable. For instance, coins are often made with ridges around the edges, so that any removal of material from the coin (lowering its commodity value) will be easy to detect.
2.10 Store of value
To act as a store of value, a commodity, a form of money, or financial capital must be able to be reliably saved, stored, and retrieved -- and be predictably useful when it is so retrieved. Fiat currency like paper or electronic currency no longer backed by gold in most countries is not considered by some economists to be a store of value.
2.11 Market liquidity
Liquidity describes how easily an item can be traded for another item, or into the common currency within an economy. Money is the most liquid asset because it is universally recognized and accepted as the common currency. In this way, money gives consumers the freedom to trade goods and services easily without having to barter.Liquid financial instruments are easily tradable and have low transaction costs. There should be no -- or minimal -- spread between the prices to buy and sell the instrument being used as money.
2.12 Types of money
In economics, money is a broad term that refers to any financial instrument that can fulfill the functions of money (detailed above). Modern monetary theory distinguishes among different types of monetary aggregates, using a categorization system that focuses on the liquidity of the financial instrument used as money.
2.13 Commodity money
money barter exchange
Commodity money value comes from the commodity out of which it is made. The commodity itself constitutes the money, and the money is the commodity. Examples of commodities that have been used as mediums of exchange include gold, silver, copper, rice, salt, peppercorns, large stones, decorated belts, shells, alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, candy, barley, etc. These items were sometimes used in a metric of perceived value in conjunction to one another, in various commodity valuation or Price System economies. Use of commodity money is similar to barter, but a commodity money provides a simple and automatic unit of account for the commodity which is being used as money.
2.14 Representative money
Representative money is money that consists of token coins, other physical tokens such as certificates, and even non-physical "digital certificates" (authenticated digital transactions) that can be reliably exchanged for a fixed quantity of a commodity such as gold, silver or potentially water, oil or food. Representative money thus stands in direct and fixed relation to the commodity which backs it, while not itself being composed of that commodity.
2.15 Credit money
Credit money is any claim against a physical or legal person that can be used for the purchase of goods and services. Credit money differs from commodity and fiat money in two ways: It is not payable on demand (although in the case of fiat money, "demand payment" is a purely symbolic act since all that can be demanded is other types of fiat currency) and there is some element of risk that the real value upon fulfillment of the claim will not be equal to real value expected at the time of purchase.
This risk comes about in two ways and affects both buyer and seller.First it is a claim and the claimant may default (not pay). High levels of default have destructive supply side effects. If manufacturers and service providers do not receive payment for the goods they produce, they will not have the resources to buy the labor and materials needed to produce new goods and services. This reduces supply, increases prices and raises unemployment, possibly triggering a period of stagflation. In extreme cases, widespread defaults can cause a lack of confidence in lending institutions and lead to economic depression. For example, abuse of credit arrangements is considered one of the significant causes of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The second source of risk is time. Credit money is a promise of future payment. If the interest rate on the claim fails to compensate for the combined impact of the inflation (or deflation) rate and the time value of money, the seller will receive less real value than anticipated. If the interest rate on the claim overcompensates, the buyer will pay more than expected.
2.16 Fiat money
Fiat money is any money whose value is determined by legal means, rather than the strict availability of goods and services which are named on the representative note.
Fiat money is created when a type of credit money (typically notes from a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve System in the U.S.) is declared by a government act (fiat) to be acceptable and officially-recognized payment for all debts, both public and private. Fiat money may thus be symbolic of a commodity or a government promise, though not a completely specified amount of either of these. Fiat money is thus not technically fungible or tradable directly for fixed quantities of anything, except more of the same government's fiat money. Fiat moneys usually trade against each other in value in an international market, as with other goods. An exception to this is when currencies are locked to each other, as explained below. Many but not all fiat moneys are accepted on the international market as having value. Those that are trade indirectly against any internationally available goods and services. Thus the number of U.S. dollars or Japanese yen which are equivalent to each other, or to a gram of gold metal, are all market decisions which change from moment to moment on a daily basis. Occasionally, a country will peg the value of its fiat money to that of the fiat money of a larger economy: for example the Belize dollar trades in fixed proportion (at 2:1) to the U.S. dollar, so there is no floating value ratio of the two currencies.
Representative, credit, and fiat money all provide solutions to several limitations of commodity money. Depending on the laws, there may be little or no need to physically transport the money -- an electronic exchange may be sufficient. Other types of moneys have as their sole use to be medium of exchange, so their supply is not limited by competing alternate uses. Credit and fiat monies can be created without limit in theory, so there is no limit on trade volumes.
Fiat money, if physically represented in the form of currency (paper or coins) can be easily damaged or destroyed. However, here fiat money has an advantage over representative or commodity money, in that the same laws that created the money can also define rules for its replacement in case of damage or destruction. For example, the U.S. government will replace mutilated federal reserve notes (U.S. fiat money) if at least half of the physical note can be reconstructed, or if it can be otherwise proven to have been destroyed. By contrast, commodity money which has been destroyed or lost is gone.
Paper currency is especially vulnerable to everyday hazards: from fire, water, termites, and simple wear and tear. Currency in the form of minted coins is more durable but a significant portion is simply lost in everyday use. In order to reduce replacement costs, many countries are converting to plastic currency. For example, Mexico has changed its twenty and fifty peso notes, Singapore its $2, $5, $10 and $50 bills, Malaysia with RM5 bill, and Australia and New Zealand their $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 to plastic, both for the increased durability and because plastic may be easily specifically constructed for each denomination, thus making it impossible for counterfeiters to "lift" or raise the value of a bill by using the material of a bill of lesser value as a primary source to make a counterfeit note of higher value.
Some of the benefits of fiat money can be a double-edged sword. For example, if the amount of money in active circulation outstrips the available goods and services for sale, the effect can be inflationary. This can easily happen if governments print money without attention to the level of economic activity, or if successful counterfeiters flourish.
A criticism of credit and fiat moneys relates to the fact that their stabilities are highly dependent on the stability of the legal system backing the currency: should the legal system fail, so will the value of any type of money that depends on it. However, this situation is typical of the maintenance of the value of any promissory note system: if a guarantor creates money or wealth by means of any legal promise to provide goods or services in the future (as is the case with both credit and fiat type moneys), then any failure of a legal system which backs up the rights of the debt-holder to collect on the promise, will act to jeopardize the value of future promises.
2.17 Money supply
The money supply is the amount of money within a specific economy available for purchasing goods or services. The supply in the US is usually considered as four escalating categories M0, M1, M2 and M3. The categories grow in size with M3 representing all forms of money (including credit) and M0 being just base money (coins, bills, and central bank deposits). M0 is also money that can satisfy private banks' reserve requirements. In the US, the Federal Reserve is responsible for controlling the money supply, while in the Euro area the respective institution is the European Central Bank. Other central banks with significant impact on global finances are the Bank of Japan, People's Bank of China and the Bank of England.
When gold is used as money, the money supply can grow in either of two ways. First, the money supply can increase as the amount of gold increases by new gold mining at about 2% per year, but it can also increase more during periods of gold rushes and discoveries, such as when Columbus discovered the new world and brought gold back to Spain, or when gold was discovered in California in 1848. This kind of increase helps debtors, and causes inflation, as the value of gold goes down. Second, the money supply can increase when the value of gold goes up. This kind of increase in the value of gold helps savers and creditors and is called deflation, where items for sale are less expensive in terms of gold. Deflation was the more typical situation for over a century when gold and credit money backed by gold were used as money in the US from 1792 to 1913.
2.18 Monetary policy
Monetary policy is the process by which a government, central bank, or monetary authority manages the money supply to achieve specific goals. Usually the goal of monetary policy is to accommodate economic growth in an environment of stable prices. For example, it is clearly stated in the Federal Reserve Act that the Board of Governors and the Federal Open Market Committee should seek “to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” A failed monetary policy can have significant detrimental effects on an economy and the society that depends on it. These include hyperinflation, stagflation, recession, high unemployment, shortages of imported goods, inability to export goods, and even total monetary collapse and the adoption of a much less efficient barter economy. This happened in Russia, for instance, after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Governments and central banks have taken both regulatory and free market approaches to monetary policy. Some of the tools used to control the money supply include:
? changing the rate at which the government loans or borrows money
? currency purchases or sales
? increasing or lowering government borrowing
? increasing or lowering government spending
? manipulation of exchange rates
? raising or lowering bank reserve requirements
? regulation or prohibition of private currencies
? taxation or tax breaks on imports or exports of capital into a country
For many years much of monetary policy was influenced by an economic theory known as monetarism. Monetarism is an economic theory which argues that management of the money supply should be the primary means of regulating economic activity. The stability of the demand for money prior to the 1980s was a key finding of Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz supported by the work of David Laidler, and many others.
2.19 The role of money in the society
A first definition of money is to define money as the mean of exchange between individuals. In a capitalist economy, this is a too simple definition. The fundamental purpose of money is a way to distribute the ownership in the society. And, by a consequence, money is also used as a mean of exchange.
But, if you analyze the way that money works you will understand that as a tool to help exchange that money is a very imperfect tool. Furthermore, it should be analyzed that money is also a social instrument which help to coordinate social relation between individuals.
2.20 Money: greediness or generosity?
In the current culture of media in France, it is current thinking that people who are money mind are greedy. This fact is the heritage of our long history about money as
Money is considered to be the tool of greedy people. Good people are supposed to work (or sell) freely. If follow, this contest should lead to the suppression of money.
So, the question is "Why money has been created ?"
If you consider the money in the antic world, money was a way to take in account action of individual in order to guarantee an equivalent action.
It is then more generosity to give out of money than against money.
2.21 The attraction for giving
All psychologist will agree that people are bound to give to other people.
So, why not simply give. Why money should be used to take account giving?
The reason is that people wants to choose what they are giving to others. And, others people wants to choose what they are receiving from you. And in most case, they are a strong discordance between what the receiver wants to receive and what you want to give.
If you try to live in society where the practice of solidarity is the main way of exchange. You will notice that giver are very happy but receiver are not so happy. In most case, receiver has to pretend to be happy by the generosity of the giver . But, in his inner being, he is thinking "I don' t need this".
In a money leaded society, receiver (called "consumer") are very happy while getting (called "buying"). But, the giver (called "worker" ) is very often thinking that he is forced by money to do think that he doesn't want to do. So, he will complain about money as money is the institution which create the gap between what he is giving (called "selling") and what he wants to give.
They will be happy if they are chosen what they are giving to others. If it is the receiver who choice what the person gives
In summary, money is a regulator between what people want to do and what other people want to receive.
2.22 The freedom of not receiving
In a market economy, every body is free of not buying what he doesn't want. This freedom has created unemployment and social misery. A question commonly asks in France: Is it " the choice of buying" socially acceptable ?
Suppose that you live in a society where half of the population are professional actors. There will have drama, movie and no public to look at them. But, in society where the freedom of not buying is guarantee, professional are working for money so no public means no money and a great number of actor will have to look for another job.
Money is the basis of a social organization in the capitalist society as there is a strong discordance between what individual wants to do to the society and what society needs from individual. For example, most people wants to be artist, politician, business men and these people want to eat, buy houses, car, dress. People are trying to spend their time in what is the most interesting for them. And, unfortunately, goods that people want to buy don't lead to the job that people wants to do.
2.23 Money: A tool to select decision maker?
A common tendency in an organize society is to select a single or a small number of individuals in order to decide for many others. As in a professional environment, a professional individual has a very high probability to decide the same way than any other professionals. The hierarchisation of the social organization appears to have one individual deciding with eventuality a veto of others individuals appear to be more functional than many individuals with an equal status in a perpetual negotiation to find a compromise. A negotiation generally consists to put everybody at a equal status in term of understanding of the situation and information and in a complex environment could be a very time consuming operation. Furthermore, when people are talking, they are not producing so reducing the talking time increase the productivity. The industrial phases has increased this tendency as the environment became so complex than it necessitates years of experience before becoming enough competent in taking a decision.
So, instead of putting everybody to an equal understanding, selecting a person (or a small group) with the best understanding and knowledge appear to be the most practical. (The ultra democrat could pretend the opposite).
Money is the tool who define the position of the individual in the society. Money has been the tool which create the social disparity between individuals.
So, many people consider that the use of money creates inequality between the distribution of wealth between individuals. In fact, it is the industrialization which necessitate the inequity between the distribution of wealth between individuals. In an industrialized society, all worker fell inequity face to manager whatever money is used or not (see collectivism model).
How does money create a hierarchical society ?
People who have no money, should work for other people. And between people who has no money some will have money to create small business as restaurant as other people will be in position to create a big factory. In society socially regulated by money, it is socially needed that some people have an huge amount of money otherwise there will never have industrial investment.
2.24 The role of money in the communism system
The Marxism is based on the refusal to use money as an instrument to socially organize the society.
In the communist USSR, money was as reduce a way to take in account what individual are doing for the society.
So, as communism society has to be industrialized, a system of individual hierarchization has to be created.
In the communist, social position has to be fixed according to exam success or the promotion through the party. Ambitious people was then involve in a political game which is opaque and more base on appearance than capability. Then, market economy has the advantage to be more pragmatic and more based on individual capability than individual appearance. In the market economy, a business manager acquiring power is acquiring money. A business manager who is acquiring money is selling with profit. Succeeding a sell is like a grant of satisfaction from the customer to the business manager. So, power concentrates to the business manager who creates the highest satisfaction to other individuals (called customer). Then, capitalist could be considered as a meritocratic system based on the capacity to satisfy the material claim of others.
Another advantage of a hierarchisation based on money ( capitalist system) to a hierarchisation based on relation (communism system). A business manager who analyzes a market and looks how to satisfy customer is involved in a more rational activity than a politician who will to have the power from others (his superior in totalitarism system or the majority in democracy). The bank account makes an history about how successful business people handles their business to succeed.
If money movement were on Internet so as every body in the world can understand how rich people succeed to get rich. The problem about how, why, who get rich could be analyzed and help individual to get the capability of succeeding with money simply in understanding how rich people manage to be rich. But, that is something which is today technically possible but whom the obstacle are used.
The Institute of Research about Entreprenorship is strongly interested about the possible change and the transparency of world exchange.
2.25 Money: Is it the best social measurement system?
Money is the most sophisticated social measurement system uses in our days. It has played a major role in the industrialization of our society and in the development of our economy. Its major success is that undeveloped countries which adopts a western style banking system has managed a strong development while others stay underdeveloped.
However, despite this success, money is still strongly contest everywhere in the world. Many of this contest came to see mainly money as a tool of exchange which is a half false view, money is before all tool of social development and hierarchisation which has made industrialization possible.
Another view is to consider that at the age of computerization. Money is may be too simple system to be optimum ?
And, the best way to develop this analysis to model another system much more optimize which can be called a collaborative system. Another alternative less innovative is to analyze the advantages and inconvenient of a multi-monetary economical system with money of various hardness (see rarity concept).
2.26 Quality of money in term of social measurement system
The current hard-currency monetary system offers to the society the following advantages:
Right of buying everything on sell: Money offers the possibility to acquire everything that people are ready to abandon there ownership right. This is the best quality of money and the counterpart is that there is no guarantee that everything on sell can be sold (unemployment !).
Right of saving: Selling with profit increases the personal freedom toward the society. This is the consequence of the interest rate system. Each profit can be put on saving with interest rate. From saving, the individual has the guarantee of a regular revenue and escapes from the constraint of work. The reality between this is that most of the work is made by the working equipment (probably more than 90 % if you compare the productivity between an artisanal tribal society to a modern industrialized society ). Saving means buying "work equipment". So, the interest rate is in reality the revenue of the "work equipment". The current monetary system guarantees that the person which makes the investment and so is the cause the production of the "work equipment" receives the revenue of this work equipment.
Pragmatic hierarchisation of the society: This last point is the less considered but it is one of the major role of money as it permits the person to acquire a position in the society according to their realization and not the talk. One the biggest cause of failure in social system is the concentration of responsibility and talent to the political world instead of entrepreneurs world. This last point should be kept in consideration as it is easy to conceive better social measurement system than money.
2.27 Weakness of money in term of social measurement system
The analyze of the weakness in term of social measurement system should be made on the concept of lost of information (in the sense of the physician concept of entropy). So, money is a good system in the sense of keeping the debt between individuals. But, many information concerning the society are not kept and could be kept in the present capability of the computerized society. This lost of information could create the feeling of unfairness with individual who expect something they have never received.
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