Difference Between Fiat Money and Commodity Money


Fiat currency values are guaranteed by the government that issues the money, and the government can control the supply of money in circulation in response to economic fluctuations. Fiat and commodity money are different because commodity money is backed up by the intrinsic value of the commodity from which it is made and fiat money is only backed by government authority. For instance, gold coins are worth even when not used as money. Fiat money’s intrinsic value is almost zero compared to its face value.

The value of the precious metal in the coin may give it another value, but this varies over time. The value of the metal is subject to bilateral agreement, just as is the case with pure metals or commodities which had not been monetized by any government. However, nothing prevents such arrangements from being made if both parties agree on a value for the coins.

Difference between Fiat Money and Commodity Money (In Points)

The Bretton Woods system was ended by what became known as the Nixon shock. This was a series of economic changes by United States President Richard Nixon in 1971, including unilaterally canceling the direct convertibility of the United States dollar to gold. Since then, a system of national fiat monies has been used globally, with variable exchange rates between the major currencies. Fiat money refers to the money that is issued by the government of the respective countries and also the value of each currency is decided by them itself. The value of the currency is decided by each country’s respective head bank.

The first known use of https://www.beaxy.com/ and silver coins was in the Greek city-state of Lydia in the beginning of the seventh century B.C. The coins were fashioned from electrum, a natural mixture of gold and silver. Conversely, fiat money meaning signifies a currency backed by the full credit of the government. Thus, it triggers immense security through decreased demand for commodities. This also helps consumers avoid their storage and brings in surged cost security. Nowadays, almost all countries have fiat money as a legal tender.

Cryptocurrencies share many similarities with conventional fiat money, but also offer some interesting advantages.

She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. An ‘Overdraft’ is where a business is permitted to overspend on its bank account up to an agreed limit. From equities, fixed income to derivatives, the CMSA certification bridges the gap from where you are now to where you want to be — a world-class capital markets analyst. For example, it offers more flexibility for the money holder, has more possibility of getting rich quickly, and offers more protection from inflation in the economy.

These two facts account for much of the romance, mystique, and confusion surrounding finance. Laymen have difficulty understanding that money has value solely because of its universal acceptance as money. We will now continue this discussion by examining how a rudimentary bank can evolve from a goldsmith, and how this leads to a theory of fractional reserve banking. According to this theory, regulation is an almost inevitable outgrowth of fractional reserve banking.

Stability under the 2% inflation standard is a chimera – Central Banking

Stability under the 2% inflation standard is a chimera.

Posted: Tue, 21 Feb 2023 08:00:00 GMT [source]

Because surprise inflation cannot affect the average level of government revenue, it cannot be used to reduce the average level of distorting taxes. It therefore only smooths the wage tax distortion, which is a second-order effect that is offset by the first-order costs of price adjustment. Phelps’ lasting contribution was to place questions concerning the optimal rate of inflation in a general equilibrium context in which inflation is chosen jointly with other distorting taxes. He recognized that his result that inflation should exceed the Friedman rule was model-specific and depended, in particular, on his assumptions about alternative taxes and about cross-price effects. In what follows, we shall explain the evolution of fractional reserve banking from its historical roots in warehousing.

Money refers to the source or medium of exchange that can be used to fulfill one’s daily needs. Money is an essential part of every person’s life as without money we can afford anything. Therefore, money has been divided majorly into three types accordingly. But here, we will be distinguishing between fiat 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.

  • Commodity money, on the other hand, refers to money that is not issued by the government but has its value and is utilized as a medium of exchange.
  • In his book “The Laws,” scholar Plato suggested scrapping silver and gold coinage and endorsed a local authority-ruled fiat currency (probably iron-made).
  • But one of the biggest benefits is that fiat money is not backed by a commodity, meaning it’s not scarce, unlike gold.
  • The government halted the convertibility of its paper money to gold or silver during this war.
  • It therefore has an intrinsic value which considerably exceeds its fiat value.

A trading agreement would be made between two individuals, each of whom possessed items that the other desired. Fiat money like the US dollar seen in Figure 2 is a medium of exchange that is backed by the government and nothing else. Its value is derived from its official recognition as a medium of exchange from government decree. Unlike commodity and representative money, fiat money is not backed by other commodities such as silver or gold, but its creditworthiness comes from the government recognizing it as money. This then brings all the functions and characteristics that money has.

Monetary Policy

If the people that a person will meet in the future do not directly observe what is done today, then it may help for the person to collect some evidence that can subsequently be shown. That is, acquiring money today can weaken the person’s future truth-telling constraints about today’s actions. If we think of fiat money as a physical and durable object like currency, then, counterfeiting aside, it can serve that role. Others can say “show me” if the person tries to overstate holdings of it. To equate the marginal value of cash balances with the marginal social cost of creating additional fiat money, which is effectively zero.


By March 2009, the Fed had repurchased 1 trillion of bank debt, mortgage-backed securities, and treasury notes, and all the cash used to repurchase these assets was flowing out to the market. “We don’t have a currency of our own,” proclaimed Nerchivan Barzani, the Kurdish regional government’s prime minister in a news interview in 2003. But, even without official recognition by the government, the so-called “Swiss” dinar certainly seemed to function as a fiat money. In 1980, the Fed decided that changes in the ways people were managing their money made M1 useless for policy choices. 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.

And money equals an intangible concept denoting the value we place in a currency as having a value. Banks take client deposit and then loan a portion to other clients. The reserve requirement ratio is the portion of deposits banks can lend to different clients. Commercial bank money is important because it helps create liquidity and funds in an economy.

It ensures that the money deposited in saving accounts is efficiently used to generate more funds in the economy that could be used for investment and development. For example, during World War II, prisoners were using cigarettes as commodity money, and they were exchanging them for other goods and services. A cigarette’s value was attached to a certain portion of bread.

In Romania under Communist Party rule in the 1980s, for example, Kent cigarettes served as a medium of exchange; the fact that they could be exchanged for other goods and services made them money. Federal banks fix regular cash expenditure and withdrawal limits. As a result, the charges for foreign transfers are exceptionally high and time-consuming.

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Irresponsible monetary policy can lead to inflation and even hyperinflation of a fiat currency. Commodity money is money whose value comes from a commodity of which it is made. Washington Irving records an emergency use of paper money by the Spanish for a siege during the Conquest of Granada (1482–1492). In 1661, Johan Palmstruch issued the first regular paper money in the West, by royal charter from the Kingdom of Sweden, through a new institution, the Bank of Stockholm. While this private paper currency was largely a failure, the Swedish parliament eventually assumed control of the issue of paper money in the country. By 1745, its paper money was inconvertible to specie, but acceptance was mandated by the government.

Later, in 550 B.C., under the order of King Croesus of Lydia, it went into full circulation. There are four main characteristics of difference between fiat money and commodity money money – it’s durable, divisible, easily exchangeable, and rare. A commodity money is a physical good that has ‘intrinsic value’ – a use outside of its use as money. Commodity money has intrinsic value because it has other uses besides being a medium of exchange.

What is fiat money?

Fiat money is a medium of exchange that is only backed by the government. Its value is derived from its official recognition as a medium of exchange from government legislation.

Fiat money serves only as a medium of exchange, because its use as such is authorized by the government; it has no intrinsic value. Houses, office buildings, land, works of art, and many other commodities serve as a means of storing wealth and value. Money differs from these other stores of value by being readily exchangeable for other commodities.

A commodity XLM money has to be rare in the fact that the supply is limited. Without such, money can become almost unlimited – thereby leading to massive levels of inflation. Nevertheless, the money supply has to still be able to react to increasing economic output.


Explain the three factors that affect the monetary base other than printing money. Many critics of the Fed believe it has gone too far by creating so much money and flooding the system with that much liquidity. Commodity money has many proponents who believe it is the best form of money, and we should move back toward that style of money. Fiat money has none of those characteristics and doesn’t peg to any tangible value; rather, it is only as valuable as the people’s faith in the money. In the early years of the Americas, the only physical coin finding widespread use was the Spanish Dollar, which was the unofficial currency of early America from the early 1600s to 1700s. Interestingly, they changed the Spanish Dollar and cut it into pieces or bits.

  • A credit card identifies you as a person who has a special arrangement with the card issuer in which the issuer will lend you money and transfer the proceeds to another party whenever you want.
  • Although a government has control over its currency supply, it’s still not a guaranteed way to protect the economy from a financial crisis, such as a recession.
  • Another mathematical model that explains the value of fiat money comes from game theory.

It is different from the standard ounce and optimal for noting the weight of precious metals like gold, platinum, and silver. The Fiat money system is backed by the reliability of the issuing government and is used as a means of payment. Moreover, its value relies on the nation’s commercial performance, leadership, and its effect on lending rates. Please note that thefiat money systemis unredeemable and inconvertible. Cryptocurrency is another fiat money alternative that’s on the rise.

It is important to know how the concept of difference between fiat money and commodity money money came into existence and also about the usage of commodity money in ancient and medieval times. Commodity money was in use for thousands of years, in times when the barter system still prevailed before any other form of money or currency came into circulation. Goods perceived to be of equal value were exchanged between the buyer and seller.

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