I think that Niall Ferguson’s book and series – The Ascent of Money makes a good read and also helps to explain some of the mystifying aspects of money. There is a humorous video here – explaining money with Niall Ferguson and Stephen Colbert asking ‘Am I money ?’
What is Money?
Money is an object used as a medium of exchange between two parties. It can have intrinsic value like gold or it can be a universally accepted instrument such as notes and coins printed by a Central Bank.
Functions of Money
- Medium of Exchange (can be widely accepted for payment of debt / goods)
- Unit of Account (measure of relative worth of goods / debt)
- Store of Value (inflation means cash tends to reduce value over a period of time)
- Standard of deferred payment (money is used to payback debt. Closely related to unit of account.
Types of Money
- Narrow Money = cash, notes and coins. This is what springs to mind when people think of money.
- Broad Money = notes and coins + bank + building society deposits. This is often known as paper money because it exists in accounts but banks don’t actually keep the total value of bank deposits as cash (they keep a very small %)
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