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Third, money serves as a unit of account    , which means that it is the ruler by which other values are measured. For example, an accountant may charge $100 to file your tax return. That $100 can purchase two pair of shoes at $50 a pair. Money acts as a common denominator, an accounting method that simplifies thinking about trade-offs.

Finally, another function of money is that money must serve as a standard of deferred payment    . This means that if money is usable today to make purchases, it must also be acceptable to make purchases today that will be paid in the future . Loans and future agreements are stated in monetary terms and the standard of deferred payment is what allows us to buy goods and services today and pay in the future. So money    serves all of these functions— it is a medium of exchange, store of value, unit of account, and standard of deferred payment.

Commodity versus fiat money

Money has taken a wide variety of forms in different cultures. Gold, silver, cowrie shells, cigarettes, and even cocoa beans have been used as money. Although these items are used as commodity money    , they also have a value from use as something other than money. Gold, for example, has been used throughout the ages as money although today it is not used as money but rather is valued for its other attributes. Gold is a good conductor of electricity and is used in the electronics and aerospace industry. Gold is also used in the manufacturing of energy efficient reflective glass for skyscrapers and is used in the medical industry as well. Of course, gold also has value because of its beauty and malleability in the creation of jewelry.

As commodity money, gold has historically served its purpose as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and as a unit of account. Commodity-backed currencies are dollar bills or other currencies with values backed up by gold or other commodity held at a bank. During much of its history, the money supply in the United States was backed by gold and silver. Interestingly, antique dollars dated as late as 1957, have “Silver Certificate” printed over the portrait of George Washington, as shown in [link] . This meant that the holder could take the bill to the appropriate bank and exchange it for a dollar’s worth of silver.

A silver certificate and a modern u.s. bill

Two images are shown. The bottom image is a silver certificate—U.S. paper currency from 1957 or earlier. The top image is of a modern U.S. currency which no longer indicates that it is commodity-backed, but which is still legal tender for all debts.
Until 1958, silver certificates were commodity-backed money—backed by silver, as indicated by the words “Silver Certificate” printed on the bill. Today, U.S. bills are backed by the Federal Reserve, but as fiat money. (Credit: “The.Comedian”/Flickr Creative Commons)

As economies grew and became more global in nature, the use of commodity monies became more cumbersome. Countries moved towards the use of fiat money    . Fiat money has no intrinsic value, but is declared by a government to be the legal tender of a country. The United States’ paper money, for example, carries the statement: “THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE.” In other words, by government decree, if you owe a debt, then legally speaking, you can pay that debt with the U.S. currency, even though it is not backed by a commodity. The only backing of our money is universal faith and trust that the currency has value, and nothing more.

Watch this video on the “History of Money.”

Key concepts and summary

Money is what people in a society regularly use when purchasing or selling goods and services. If money were not available, people would need to barter with each other, meaning that each person would need to identify others with whom they have a double coincidence of wants—that is, each party has a specific good or service that the other desires. Money serves several functions: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value, and a standard of deferred payment. There are two types of money: commodity money, which is an item used as money, but which also has value from its use as something other than money; and fiat money, which has no intrinsic value, but is declared by a government to be the legal tender of a country.


Hogendorn, Jan and Marion Johnson. The Shell Money of the Slave Trade . Cambridge University Press, 2003. 6.

Questions & Answers

which model predicted a global collapse in the world's social and economic system before the year 2010
Francis Reply
what is the formula of mixed income ?
Sanjum Reply
labor force in.Nigeria is seen as .......?
Aisha Reply
Is demand the same as being in need of a product?
Aphiwe Reply
Demand is defer from only need of products
need is the primary and main root of demand. but demand is the result of combination of need; income capacity and desire to expend of money for that product.
products or services
what is price determination?
Alick Reply
why are imports subtructed when GDP is calculated in the expenditure approach
what is fiscalpolicy
nati Reply
The way of the government expenses and other analysis
It explains government spending and how it helps to direct the economy towards the desired direction. For instance, if the govt of a nation is desirous of achieving economic growth and development, then the govt will adopt an expansionary fiscal policy which imply more spending by the govt.
and politics party important
mujtaba Reply
politics party important
Which party is that
persons who stopped searching for jobs but would accept if the opportunity presents itself
Torissa Reply
persons who are unemployed whether they are underage, retired or incapacitated
the us economy is best characterized as?
what is the impact of fiscal policy in the short and long run in the AD/AS model...
Hydrammeh Reply
What is demand
Mohd Reply
Demand is the desire for a commodity backed by the willingness and the purchasing power too.
what is the impact of the higher tax rate on the business and the economy at large..?
Hydrammeh Reply
aggregate demand decreases and GDP decreases in the long run prices will decrease because aggregate supply will shift to the right and increase
Thanks, Murabit
But still I will need more explanation
no problem tax rate is a form of fiscal policy so any time the government changes spending or taxes it will directly affect the economy
but remember that there at different economic views on fiscal policy there is classical,Keynesian and moneterism
if taxes increase aggregate demand decreases causing a fall in prices causing a fall in the money demand lowering interest rate and increasing investment spending in turn increasing prices
thanks so much Murabit
what are the policy recommendations for impact of government borrowing?
Baisiro Reply
how can I get Utility notes here
Tabea Reply
I also want to know
I have them
money and money supply
Yogesh Reply
money is anything that is generally accepted as payment of goods and services or that is accepted in settlement of debt.
Money supply?
Money supply is the total value of monetary assets available in an economy at a specific time.
supply of money:- The total quantity of money in an economy at a point of time......
What is the difference between monetary economy and barter economy?
monetary economy is simply an economy where money acts as a medium of exchange and barter economy is why where goods acts as a medium of exchange
Thank you Ittoo.
please cut why.....in last ans
and no need of thanks dear
Don't damend work in inflation
Mishael Reply

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