The Role of Money in the U.S. Economy If you ask the average person what money is, you are undoubtedly going to receive some very strange looks. Money is a concept that many people take for granted. We know that money allows us to acquire goods and services, but what is its source of value? Money is paper, which is for all practical purposes; no different than the paper this text is written on. How then would anyone in his or her right mind trade a tangible object (like a new stereo or television) for it? Money plays a key role in our lives, but few people are totally free of misconceptions about it.
In the booklet, The Federal Reserve System, Purposes & Functions, the Federal Reserve (or Fed) defines money as "Anything that serves as a generally accepted medium of exchange, a standard of value, and a means of saving or storing purchasing power.
In the United States, currency (the bulk of which is Federal Reserve notes) and funds in checking and similar accounts at depository institutions are examples of money." In a barter economy, the buyer must offer real goods of the same value as the goods purchased. If the seller agrees to deliver the goods in exchange for a promise to receive equivalent value later, he has accepted an IOU. That IOU is a credit for the seller and a debt for the buyer. If the IOU is negotiable (if it can be used in exchange for goods sold by others) then the IOU is evidence of a monetary system. In essence, money is credit that is widely accepted as a medium of exchange.
For credit to be accepted as a medium of exchange, it must be seen as having some value. This doesn?t mean that...