“Money” is an integral part of the current economic system, but it is something that exists purely on paper and can be created at will.
This means that money’s value arises solely from the belief in its existence, not its utility.
All this uncertainty has led to a movement known as “anti-money,” championed by individuals such as David Graeber.
Anti-money advocates argue that money’s power should be curbed so its use can actually serve society rather than serving society for the use of money.
As a solution to this issue, anti-money proponents often advocate going back to bartering or using alternative currencies such as cryptocurrencies.
Although currencies such as the U.S. dollar are often described as “hard” money, in reality there is no inherent value to such a currency,
and its value is entirely based on public faith in it. Most modern currencies are simply branded U.S. dollars –
although their values do not coincide with those of actual U.S. dollars – which doesn’t make them intrinsically valuable;
they are simply accepted in exchange for goods and services because they are popular with consumers, banks, and investors (as well as a result of government manipulation).
however, can be defined as “money that has been formed into an asset whose
value tends to track the underlying assets rather than the consumer belief of it.
It is a result of economic fundamentals, and not year-to-year changes or speculation.”
Terms such as “hard money” and “soft money” are used to define different types of money,
but they do not refer to whether that type of money is “good” or “bad,” they merely give it a label based on how it functions.
Since many currencies do not have inherent value, most modern currencies rely on the faith in the economy itself.
Historically, this generally resulted in hyperinflation and significant losses for those holding paper currency (e.g. the Weimar Republic).
In recent years, this phenomenon has been easy to see in the 2009 recession and the 2010-2012 European sovereign debt crisis.
However, hyperinflation rarely results from a currency having no inherent value.
Instead, it usually derives from an influx of paper money used to prop up a failing economy in which debt is unsustainable.
The Federal Reserve
says that “Money creation takes place through the business activity of commercial banks making loans or acquiring assets,”
where consumers deposit cash or checks and financial institutions invest this money into different types of assets such as home loans or Treasury bonds.
The Federal Reserve furthermore asserts that “These investments provide cash flows to the investor (lender) and thus constitute money creation.
The critical aspect of this ‘money’ is that it provides the means to make payments.“
This statement explains that money has value to consumers by providing them with the ability to make transactions,
and that value derives from its use as a medium of exchange, which essentially means it consists of paper notes.
The Federal Reserve also says “the Federal Reserve does not target an overnight interest rate for any given asset or base money”
but instead aims to maintain steady growth in the economy. Therefore, according to mainstream economics,
the “wholesale” money supply (money held by financial institutions and other intermediaries) is created through borrowing and spending.
The Federal Reserve’s interpretation
of “money” is somewhat different from that of some other economists.
Although the Federal Reserve says money is printed in this statement,
it also says these printed pieces of paper have value and are accepted as payment for goods and services.
In its report “Monetary Policy Framework and the Balance Sheet,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says:
“Money is defined as a unit of account that enables individuals, businesses, communities and nations to participate
in the economy by altering the supply or flow of goods and services.” Contrary to this definition,
Joe Salerno writes in his book “The Dollar Crisis” that “a common definition of money is: ‘monetary instruments
(coins; currency bills; checks; etc. in paper or electronic form) that have been accepted as a medium of exchange by
those trading in goods, services, and information.’ Such money is ‘medium of exchange’ because it is accepted in lieu of others as a means to fulfill desired economic goals.”
Another group who argue that we should not print more money is the international organization, the Monetarist International.
The member banks include the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), headquartered in Basel, Switzerland;
the European Central Bank (ECB), headquartered in Frankfurt, Germany; and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board of Governors, headquartered in Washington D.C.
The BIS states that, “The traditional view that the central bank has an independent monetary policy was challenged in the 1960s by Milton Friedman.”
The BIS’ website also says, “In the 1970s, prominent economists and central bankers argued that there was no way to separate monetary policy from fiscal policy.”
This dispute between monetarists and Keynesians has been a source of great debate since the 1970s.