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Commodity Money: Definition, Examples & Characteristics


Moreover, is used as a unit of account and a store of value. Representative is a type of money that is issued by the government and backed by commodities such as precious metals like gold or silver. The value of this type of money is directly linked to the value of the asset that is backing the money. Representative money is a type of money that is issued by the government and backed by commodities such as precious metals like gold or silver. The tradition of this exchange can still be found on a Pound Sterling paper note – take a look at the writing on the front, which will say “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of…”. Historically, one could have traded their bank note, or ‘receipt’ for gold, or the sum of this amount in a commodity.

  • The reserve requirement ratio is the portion banks cannot lend to different clients from their savings accounts.
  • Currently working as a consultant within the financial services sector, Paul is the CEO and chief editor of BoyceWire.
  • Some advantages of fiat money are like it only uses the paper as the only natural resource for manufacturing the notes, it is stable, its supply is unlimited by the government, etc.

In times gone by, people would trade goods like food, materials, and livestock directly with one another. In smaller ecosystems and civilisations, this was sufficient. There was a barter system, and people would trade as well as they could to get the most profit and/or value. However, this did have a few drawbacks, as it meant that trading was limited to the trader, was therefore quite inefficient. Business CycleThe business cycle refers to the alternating phases of economic growth and decline. Commodities such as meat would not be effective as they go bad over time.

Fiat money vs commodity money

Many governments no longer think commodity money is in the best interests of the public. Its value is based on people’s trust in it and willingness to accept it as a medium of exchange. Fiat money loses its value once people start to reject it as a medium of exchange. Fiat money is a legal tender, which is a currency declared legal by the government, and its value is backed by LINK the issuer . On the other hand, cryptocurrency is a digital currency that’s backed by blockchain technology and decentralized, meaning it’s not backed by a central authority like a government. VendorsA vendor refers to an individual or an entity that sells products and services to businesses or consumers.

It allows people to buy products and services as they need without having to trade product for product, as was the case with barter trade. And we know that things like gold, silver, copper, etc are extracted from the earth, and after polishing it to a finished product it is sold in the market. But, here comes the major limitation of commodity money and that is they are not easily accepted or accessible everywhere.

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A perishable item or one that degrades rapidly after being used in exchanges will be less usable in future transactions. Using a non-durable item as money is incompatible with money’s fundamentally future-oriented nature. The good’s fungible units should be of a generally uniform quality so that they can be interchanged. If multiple units of an item have varying attributes, their value in future transactions may not be constant or dependable. Trying to use a non-fungible item as money incurs transaction costs since each unit of the good must be individually evaluated before an exchange can take place.

A country experiencing political instability is likely to have a weakened currency and inflated commodity prices, making it hard for people to buy products as they may need. Century, mainly in the Yuan, Tang, Song, and Ming dynasties. In the Tang Dynasty ( ), there was a high demand for metallic currency that exceeded the supply of precious metals. The people were familiar with the use of credit notes, and they readily accepted pieces of paper or paper drafts. Currencies were backed by physical commodities such as silver and gold, but fiat money is based on the creditworthiness of the issuing government. The money that is issued and has the full power of the government for its creation and further used as a medium of exchange is known as fiat money.

The reserve requirement ratio is the portion of deposits banks can lend to different clients. Holders of fiduciary money use it to make payments at later dates. The Fed uses monetary aggregates to measure the money supply in the economy. Monetary aggregates measure the amount of money that circulates in the economy. Commodity money is a medium exchange with intrinsic value due to its use for purposes other than money.

M2 aggregates include all the money supply M1 covers and add some other assets such as saving accounts and time deposits. Examples of commodity money includes commodities such as gold, silver, copper. Commodity money is a medium of exchange with intrinsic value due to its use for purposes other than money.

Money as we know it today

Who says that the dollar you have in your pocket is valuable? You will know a lot more about these questions after reading our article on the types of money. Commodity money has intrinsic value but risks large price fluctuations based on changing commodity prices. If silver coins are used, for instance, a large discovery of silver may cause the value of the silver currency to plunge, resulting in inflation.


Furs and agricultural difference between commodity and fiat money such as maize were employed in trade transactions throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries. Money is a medium of exchange that can be used to facilitate transactions for goods and services. In 1971, the U.S. stopped offering foreign governments gold in exchange for U.S. currency. Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader.

Because it has not been recognized as legal tender by the government, as opposed to fiat money, individuals are not obligated to accept it as a form of payment under the law as a result. Instead, if the bearer demands it, the issuer of fiduciary money offers to swap it for a commodity or fiat money at the issuer’s discretion. People may use fiduciary money in the same way as conventional fiat or commodity money, as long as they are convinced that the guarantee will not be breached. The difference between fiat money and representative money is that fiat money’s value depends on its demand and supply.

Fiat money is a type of currency that is not backed by a commodity, such as gold or silver. It is typically designated by the issuing government to be legal tender. Throughout history, fiat money was sometimes issued by local banks and other institutions. In modern times, fiat money is generally authorized by government regulation.

But here, we will be distinguishing between difference between commodity and fiat money money and commodity money. People often tend to get confused between the types of money, but one should be clear and specific about the money as they represent its usage and differences. The most important feature of fiat currency remains its stability, unlike commodity monies such as gold, silver, and copper.

It has largely given up tracking a particular measure of the money supply. The choice of what to measure as money remains the subject of continuing research and considerable debate. As financial assets other than checkable deposits have become more liquid, economists have had to develop broader measures of money that would correspond to economic activity. In the United States, the final arbiter of what is and what is not measured as money is the Federal Reserve System. Because it is difficult to determine what to measure as money, the Fed reports several different measures of money, including M1 and M2.

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This includes using multiple financial ledgers, hiding or representing lesser income, gains, or profits than actually earned, overstating deductions, & failing to file returns. Discount rate is the interest rate on discount loans made by the Fed to private banks. Federal funds rate is the interest rate on loans between private banks. Commodity money involves the use of an actual good in place of money . Fiat money has no other value than as a medium for exchange; value comes from government . IG International Limited is licensed to conduct investment business and digital asset business by the Bermuda Monetary Authority.

Why is fiat money better than commodity money?

Unlike commodity monies, fiat currencies allow the central banks to print or hold money as they see fit to help control the money supply, inflation, interest rates, and liquidity.

During the 11th century, the government established a monopoly on its issuance, and about the end of the 12th century, convertibility was suspended. The use of such money became widespread during the subsequent Yuan and Ming dynasties. Money declared by a person, institution or government to be legal tender, meaning that it must be accepted in payment of a debt in specific circumstances. Century as governments and banks moved in to protect their economies from the frequent busts of the business cycle.

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