In order not to make up long chains of exchange, you need an intermediary product that everyone needs. In Virginia, tobacco was such a commodity. I don’t smoke myself, but I’ll take tobacco for my slippers with pleasure. Because for it I’ll get my ice cream. Such an intermediary commodity becomes money. But this is not the definition of money. Modern money is completely different. You can’t even smoke them. A commodity is money in its infancy. We will not define money at all stages of development. Let us trace the logic of this development and define the current state.
With the advent of money, the value of goods, expressed in money, began to play a special role. This value is called the price. Price is the coefficient of exchange for money. It’s easier for you to express the value of your cap in tobacco. For example, it will cost 100 pinches of tobacco. And for my slippers you will give 1.07 times less, 93 pinches. The coefficient of exchange of money for a commodity in its original version, like that of other commodities, depended on the expenditure of labor and income on capital in the production of a commodity serving as money.
The cost of money does not affect the cap-to-slipper ratio. When you exchange a hat for tobacco, the labor costs of making it in the exchange ratio are on one side of the fraction, when you exchange tobacco for slippers – on the other. The cost of tobacco in our operations is reduced, and we get the same slipper-to-cap exchange rate – 1.07. That is, money does not affect the cost in any way. Value is not a function of money. And the price depends on the value of money and on the total value.
Cost is an economic concept that does not depend on the financial sector. It is created by trade, not by the financial system. Trade creates value. That is, the exchange rates are also relative values. And production itself creates wealth. And price is a relative value even next to value and is a property of money. Price is a function of the ratio of the value of money to the value of goods exchanged in the market. The value added up without the influence of money. That is, the price within the financial system is only a function of the properties of money! What exactly this function is mathematically, we will define in the next chapter in relation to modern money. In the meantime, let’s follow the logic of their formation.
Various commodities played the role of money. But gradually the most convenient one was chosen. And the requirements for convenience are as follows – high liquidity, high safety and high cost in relation to weight and size parameters. We’ve already heard a similar song somewhere. It was a song about a treasure. This does not mean that money and treasure are one and the same. Simply at the initial stage of the formation of money, the requirements for money coincided with the requirements for the treasure. Later they began to diverge.
There is another specific requirement for money – easy divisibility. It is impossible to separate the slippers. Tobacco divides much better. By a happy coincidence, gold is relatively easy to divide without losing its properties. Silver had similar properties and also played the role of money. But in terms of the totality of properties, it lost the competition to gold.
The monetary unit was a certain weight of gold. Gold was measured by weight. This gave rise to its own difficulties. The purity of the bars might not be the same. The same weight could contain different values. The creation of the mint solved the problem. He began to mint on the ingots a mark certifying the standard percentage of gold. Money with the minted brand continued to be accepted by weight.
The emergence of the mint was the first step towards regulating money circulation. Until now money was created by the market spontaneously according to the laws of self-organization. With the advent of the mint, the function of guaranteeing the quality of money was delegated to the supersystem. Since then, the supersystem began to take on more and more functions, creating a superstructure over the economy – the financial system.
The next step was the minting of not only the hallmarks, but also the edges of the coin. The coin has become not only of standard quality, but also of standard sizes, containing the standard value not in weight, but in piece. Money has become much more convenient to use, not by weight, but by account.
The turning point in the development of money was the creation of the Amsterdam Bank. Amsterdam is a merchant city. It is inconvenient, dangerous and expensive for a merchant to carry a large amount of gold with him. The merchant deposited gold in the bank and received from the bank a document certifying the right to claim this gold. The merchant paid the bank interest for keeping this gold. The fee was the bank’s income. The merchant benefited from the savings in transportation and gold security costs. And with his counterparty, he paid with a bank document, transferring to him the right to claim gold.
The bank document itself began to play the role of money. The function of money has split. It became the right to claim the value of money, and not the value itself, to exchange for goods. The cost itself is in the bank and is a guarantee of this right. Providing bank guarantees. Gold, which was previously money, becomes a treasure that provides the purchasing power of money.
It is more convenient for the market to use bank documents. He rarely requests gold from the bank. The very right of such demand at any moment is enough for him. The bank accumulates gold that has not been demanded by the market for years. Gold that has become a treasure. But you and I already know that treasure is the lowest quality component of wealth. The bankers also guessed about it.
The treasure must turn into capital. And the bankers found a way to turn it into working capital. They began to lend gold at interest. But the one who received a bank loan is also inconvenient to use gold. He leaves the gold in the bank and receives a bank document. The document is the same as received by other merchants. But in the bank, this document is no longer secured with gold, but with the debt obligations of the borrower.
Thus, there are more means of payment in the economy than there was originally money. Since the bank requires much less real money than the means of payment necessary for the functioning of the economy, the bank can issue several payment units for one unit of money. That is, to provide new means of payment with, say, 20% money, 80% credit obligations of borrowers. So the bank increases the number of means of payment. The ratio of the entire resulting money supply to the monetary base (the amount of primary money) is called the bank multiplier.
The emergence of the banking multiplier means that the market now needs much less gold to organize money circulation. That is, many times less diversion of wealth in the form of treasure. Many times less unproductive use of wealth made it possible to use it in the form of capital and consumer goods, made society richer and the economy more dynamic.
New, secondary means of payment originally existed in the form of checkbooks or banknotes. But issuing banknotes is too profitable business. And the economic authorities monopolized it. Irving Fischer believed that checks are not money. The means of payment is a bank deposit, and checks only transfer the right to claim this deposit. Therefore, he considered the circulation of money and deposits.
Since then, both money and other means of payment have evolved significantly. Today, the place of checkbooks is taken by plastic cards with electronic money. Even calling them something else, not money, is no longer possible. The layman does not find the difference between money on a bank card and a bill. They participate on an equal footing in money circulation and their purchasing power is practically the same. Therefore, we will have to call both of them money. Let’s call them primary and secondary money.
Primary money also underwent a metamorphosis. At first they became banknotes, partially backed by gold. With the abolition of the gold standard, banknotes and electronic records were issued by the Central Bank. What they are provided with is absolutely difficult to understand. In weak economies, they are partially backed by gold and the reserve of currencies of strong economies – gold and foreign exchange reserves. In strong economies – in incomprehensible words about the common property.
Now, after describing the current situation and its background, let’s figure out what modern money is and what it consists of. Money is the right guaranteed by the authorities to receive value circulated on the market. Secondary money – the right to claim the primary money. And this gives rise to their secondary, but basic function. Secondary money is a bank guaranteed right to receive value circulated in the market.
By values, we mean everything that circulates in the market. In addition to the components of wealth and services, their various derivatives circulate on the market. When the crisis begins, we stop trusting the bank guarantee and withdraw money from the bank. We exchange our secondary money for primary money. But for one primary money, several secondary ones are generated. We destroy them all. We reduce the banking multiplier by removing the primary money from its collateral. Thus, in a crisis, the money supply collapses. The amount of money in the economy is rapidly decreasing. This is how crisis deflation manifests itself.
But a qualitative description and definition for money is not enough. Money is a quantitative quantity. The amount of our right depends not only on the amount of our money, but also on the total amount of money in the economy. In 1998, the Russian ruble was denominated. In one night, we had 1000 times less money. But no one woke up impoverished. Our right to receive valuables has not changed at all. Because prices have fallen 1000 times. Prices do not depend on the money supply in some clever way. Prices are directly proportional to the amount of money and, in an unchanged economy, depend only on the amount of money. And since the economy does not depend on money in any way, prices are determined only by the amount of money.
Our right to value is proportional to the amount of our money and inversely proportional to the total money supply. That is, money is a right to a share of values. Therefore, for happiness, it is not enough for me that I have money; for happiness, I need that you do not have it.
When we receive money, we see some absolute figures. But in fact we get not an absolute value, but a share – a relative value. And we don’t know what it is. We only get information about one half of the fraction.
Monetary unit – the right to receive a part of the values redistributed in the market in one cycle of money supply turnover, equal to the ratio of the unit to the money supply circulating in the market. That is, it is a relative value. In this cycle of turnover, it is one, in the next there will be another. If the Central Bank issues money and lends it to you, it will make me poorer. I will get a smaller share of the same values circulating in the economy. If you knit a hat and take it to the market, I’ll be richer. I will get the same share for my money, but from more values.
Now about the amount of money in the economy. There is a popular belief among economists that the money supply can be controlled. By issuing money, we increase the monetization of the economy. By increasing the statutory reserve requirements, we are reducing the banking multiplier and with it the money supply. If the reserve rate is 2%, then the banking system can generate 49 secondary money for one primary money. If we increase the reserve ratio to 20%, then the maximum multiplier will be 5. That is, banks will be able to generate a maximum of 4 secondary money.
But these are all illusions. The supply of money can be manipulated during transients to smooth out harmful fluctuations. But for this you need to understand – how they proceed. And the amount of money required by the economy in a steady state is an objective value and is dictated by the economy, not the financial system. If the financial system exceeds the money supply, it will achieve nothing but inflation. To understand how the amount of money in the economy is formed, let us consider the phenomenon of money even deeper.
We found out that the bulk of the money is the rights guaranteed by the bank. But the bank guarantee has its own security. These are the loan obligations of the borrower. The bank can issue a loan to the borrower to secure his capital. Hence, the amount of credit is a function of the cost of capital. The borrower can take out a loan at the prevailing interest, based on the possibility of earning additional income. If his return on capital is greater than the bank interest, he will receive additional income. The ability to exceed this percentage depends on the productivity of labor and capital. Since these values are related and ultimately reduced to labor, we can say that from labor productivity.
Thus, the volume of loans and secondary money is a function of the cost of capital and the value of labor productivity. Secondary money is capital converted into a liquid form. And since there is much more secondary money in the economy than primary money, we can say that money in the economy is its transformed capital. So the phrase about the public property, which provides money circulation, makes sense.
Of course, the bank can issue a loan for the treasure. For example, for your gold bars. But the treasure does not produce new wealth. You are eating up credit. You have generated low quality money and are shrinking the economy. Thus, the amount of money in the economy is determined by the cost of capital, and their quality is determined by the productivity of labor.
In classical works on economics, it is convincingly shown that the cost of capital is the higher, the lower the bank interest. If you buy property to rent out, you are comparing your investment to a bank deposit. At two percent per annum, you can buy property for 50 annual rentals. With ten percent – only 10. More expensive is not profitable, it is better to put money into circulation through a bank. Therefore, a low interest economy is an economy with a high cost of capital and high monetization (the ratio of money supply to GDP). When they say that the economy has accumulated a lot of money, this does not mean that a lot of money has been printed, it means that a high cost of capital has been accumulated.
The backing of money in a financial system is not limited by the capital of the country to which the financial system belongs. In a weaker economy with high inflation, credit is expensive. But large commodity capital can always take out a cheaper loan in a strong financial system. This means that this capital creates money in someone else’s financial system and serves as its security. A stronger financial system feeds on more than just its country’s capital.
Economists in a weak economy with high inflation note that the monetization of their economy is much less than the monetization of the stronger economy. By mistakenly believing that monetization depends on the money supply, they increase it. But it is as effective as putting a patient with a high temperature in the refrigerator. The agony will only accelerate.
Excess money only leads to an increase in inflation, a decrease in the cost of capital, the displacement of new capital into someone else’s financial system, and a further decrease in monetization. That is, to the exact opposite result.
We have already seen how government intervention in the economy in order to reduce the cost of food creates hunger in Africa. How government intervention in trade, the fight against speculators and the stimulation of direct trade in the peasant makes the population poorer. Now we see how the actions of the authorities to increase the monetization of the economy lead to its decrease. These are the properties of nonlinear processes in self-organizing systems. “I wet my feet – a sore throat, wet my throat – my feet are braided.” And these are the properties of power – to harm the economy by any of its interventions.