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MGT411 - Money & Banking - Lecture Handout 03

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  • Money
  • Characteristics of Money
  • Liquidity
  • Payment system
  • Commodity vs. Fiat Money
  • Cheques
  • Other forms of payments
  • Future of Money


  • Money is an asset that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services or repayment of debt.
  • Not the same as wealth or income
  • Money is a component of wealth that is held in a readily- spend able form
  • Money is made up of
  • Coin and currency
  • Chequing account balances
  • Other assets that can be turned into cash or demand deposits nearly instantaneously, without risk or cost (liquid wealth)

Distinctions among Money, Wealth, and Income

  • While money, income and wealth are all measured in some currency unit, they differ significantly in their meaning.
  • People have money if they have large amounts of currency or big bank accounts at a point in time. (Stock variable)
  • Someone earns income (not money) from work or investments over a period of time. (Flow variable)
  • People have wealth if they have assets that can be converted into more currency than is necessary to pay their debts at a point in time. (Stock variable)

Characteristics of Money

  • A means of payment
  • A unit of Account
  • A Store of Value

A means of payment

  • The primary use of money is as a means of payment.
  • Money is accepted in economic exchanges.
  • Barter is an alternative to using money but it doesn’t work very well.
  • Barter requires a “double coincidence of wants,” meaning that in order for trade to take place both parties must want what the other has.
  • Money finalizes payments so that buyers and sellers have no further claim on each other.
  • As economies have become more complex and physically dispersed the need for money has grown.
  • Just as the division of labor and specialization allow for efficient production, money allows for efficient exchange.

A unit of Account

  • We measure value using rupees and paisas.
  • Money is the unit of account that we use to quote prices and record debts.
  • Money can be referred to as a standard of value.
  • Using money makes comparisons of value easy
  • Under barter the general formula for n goods, we will have n (n - 1) / 2 prices
  • Two goods 1 price
  • 3 goods 3 prices
  • 100 goods 4,950 prices
  • 10,000 goods 50 million prices

A Store of Value

  • For money to function as a means of payment it has to be a store of value too because it must retain its worth from day to day.
  • The means of payment has to be durable and capable of transferring purchasing power from one day to the next.
  • Money is not the only store of value; wealth can be held in a number of other forms.
  • Other stores of value can be preferable to money because they pay interest or deliver other services.
  • However, we hold money because it is liquid, meaning that we can use it to make purchases.
  • Liquidity is a measure of the ease with which an asset can be turned into a means of payment (namely money).
  • The more costly an asset is to turn into money, the less liquid it is.
  • Constantly transforming assets into money every time we wish to make a purchase would be extremely costly; hence we hold money


  • Liquidity is a measure of the ease an asset can be turned into a means of payment, namely money
  • An asset is liquid if it can be easily converted into money and illiquid if it is costly to convert.
  • Cash is perfectly liquid.
  • Stocks and bonds are somewhat less liquid.
  • Land is least liquid.

The Payments System

  • The payment system is a web of arrangements that allows for the exchange of goods and services, as well as assets among different people
  • Money is at the heart of payment system!

Types of Money

  • Commodity Money – Things that have intrinsic value
  • Fiat Money – Value comes from government decree (or fiat)

Commodity Money

  • The first means of payment were things with intrinsic value like silk or salt.
  • Successful commodity monies had the following characteristics
  • They were usable in some form by most people;
  • They could be made into standardized quantities;
  • They were durable;
  • They had high value relative to their weight and size so that they were easily transportable; and
  • They were divisible into small units so that they were easy to trade
  • For most of human history, gold has been the most common commodity money

Fiat Money

  • Today we use paper money that is fiat money, meaning that its value comes from government decree (or fiat).
  • A note costs about 0.04% its worth to produce.
  • These notes are accepted as payment for goods or in settlement of debts for two reasons:
  • We take them because we believe we can use them in the future.
  • The law says we must accept them; that is what the words “legal tender” printed on the note means.
  • As long as the government stands behind its paper money, and doesn’t issue too much of it, we will use it. In the end, money is about trust.

Fiat or Commodity Money?

  • Does money need to be backed by a commodity at all?
  • The logical answer to this question is no.
  • If the monetary system is stable and functions effectively, “backing” is expensive, inconvenient, and unnecessary.
  • Today, money is only backed by confidence that government will responsibly limit the quantity of money to ensure that money in circulation will hold its value.

Advantages of Fiat Money

  • Fewer resources are used to produce money.
  • The quantity of money in circulation can be determined by rational human judgment rather than by discovering further mineral deposits—like gold or diamonds


  • A corrupt or pressured government might issue excessive amounts of money, thereby unleashing severe inflation.


  • Cheques are another way of paying for things, but
  • They are not legal tender
  • They are not even money.
  • Cheques are instructions to the bank to take funds from your account and transfer those funds to the person or firm whose name is written in the “Pay to the Order of” line.
  • When you give someone a Cheque in exchange for a good or service, it is not a final payment;
  • A series of transactions must still take place that lead to the final payment
  • Following are the steps in the process
  1. You hand a paper cheque from your bank to a merchant in exchange for some good
  2. The merchant deposits the cheque into merchant’s bank and merchant’s account is credited
  3. The merchant’s bank sends the cheque to the local central bank
  4. The Central Bank
  5. Credits the merchant’s bank’s reserve account
  6. Debits your bank’s reserve account (This step involves money)
  7. The Central Bank returns the cheque to your bank
  8. Your bank debits your Chequing account by the amount of the cheque
  • The whole process is time consuming and expensive;
  • Though cheque volumes have begun to fall, paper Cheques are still with us because a cancelled cheque is legal proof of payment

Other Forms of Payments

  • Debit Cards
  • Credit Cards
  • Electronic Funds transfers
  • Stored Value Cards

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