People were willing to use gold as a store of wealth because they believed that it would remain highly valued.
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Open it perish physically over time, but also on the belief that others would always value precious metals. The value from year to year of precious metals depended on people’s continued demand for them in ornaments, jewellery, and so on. For example, <span>people were willing to use gold as a store of wealth because they believed that it would remain highly valued. However, if gold became less valuable to people relative to other goods and services year after year it would not be able to fulfill its role as a store of value , and as such might als
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Money : the price of oranges in terms of pears; of pears in terms of bread; of bread in terms of milk; or of milk in terms of oranges. A barter economy has no common measure of value that would make multiple transactions simple.
<span>2.1.1. The Functions of Money
The most generic definition of money is that it is any generally accepted medium of exchange. A medium of exchange is any asset that can be used to purchase goods and services or to repay debts. Money can thus eliminate the debilitating double coincidence of the “wants” problem that exists in a barter economy. When this medium of exchange exists, a farmer wishing to sell wheat for wine does not need to identify a wine producer in search of wheat. Instead, he can sell wheat to those who want wheat in exchange for money. The farmer can then exchange this money for wine with a wine producer, who in turn can exchange that money for the goods or services that she wants.
However, for money to act as this liberating medium of exchange, it must possess certain qualities. It must:
be readily acceptable,
have a known value,
be easily divisible,
have a high value relative to its weight, and
be difficult to counterfeit.
Qualities (i) and (ii) are closely related; the medium of exchange will only be acceptable if it has a known value. If the medium of exchange has quality (iii), then it can be used to purchase items of relatively little value and of relatively large value with equal ease. Having a high value relative to its weight is a practical convenience, meaning that people can carry around sufficient wealth for their transaction needs. Finally, if the medium of exchange can be counterfeited easily, then it would soon cease to have a value and would not be readily acceptable as a means of effecting transactions; in other words, it would not satisfy qualities (i) and (ii).
Given the qualities that money needs to have, it is clear why precious metals (particularly gold and silver) often fulfilled the role of medium of exchange in early societies, and as recently as the early part of the twentieth century. Precious metals were acceptable as a medium of exchange because they had a known value, were easily divisible, had a high value relative to their weight, and could not be easily counterfeited.
Thus, precious metals were capable of acting as a medium of exchange. But they also fulfilled two other useful functions that are essential for the characteristics of money. In a barter economy, it is difficult to store wealth from one year to the next when one’s produce is perishable, or indeed, if it requires large warehouses in which to store it. Because precious metals like gold had a high value relative to their bulk and were not perishable, they could act as a store of wealth . However, their ability to act as a store of wealth not only depended on the fact that they did not perish physically over time, but also on the belief that others would always value precious metals. The value from year to year of precious metals depended on people’s continued demand for them in ornaments, jewellery, and so on. For example, people were willing to use gold as a store of wealth because they believed that it would remain highly valued. However, if gold became less valuable to people relative to other goods and services year after year it would not be able to fulfill its role as a store of value , and as such might also lose its status as a medium of exchange.
Another important characteristic of money is that it can be used as a universal unit of account. As such, it can create a single unitary measure of value for all goods and services. In an economy where gold and silver are the accepted medium of exchange, all prices, debts, and wealth can be recorded in terms of their gold or silver coin exchange value. Money, in its role as a unit of account, drastically reduces the number of prices in an economy compared to barter, which requires that prices be established for a good in terms of all other goods for which it might be exchanged.
In summary, money fulfills three important functions, it:
acts as a medium of exchange;
provides individuals with a way of storing wealth; and
provides society with a convenient measure of value and unit of account.
2.1.2. Paper Money and the Money Creation Process
Although precious metals like gold and silver fulfilled the required functions of money
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