MUTABARUKA – CUTTING EDGE MAY 17 2017
WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MONEY AND WHO DOES IT BELONG TO?
If money is viewed simply as a tool used to facilitate transactions, only those media that are readily accepted in exchange for goods, services, and other assets need to be considered. Many things – from stones to baseball cards – have served this monetary function through the ages. Today, in the United States, money used in transactions is
mainly of three kinds – currency (paper money and coins in the pockets and purses of the public); demand deposits (non-interest bearing checking accounts in banks); and other checkable deposits, such as negotiable order of withdrawal (NOW) accounts, at all depository institutions, including commercial and savings banks, savings and loan associations, and credit unions. Travellers checks also are included in the definition of transactions money.
Since $1 in currency and $1 in checkable deposits are freely convertible into each other and both can be used directly for expenditures, they are money in equal degree. However, only the cash and balances held by the non-bank public are counted in the money supply. Deposits of the U.S. Treasury, depository institutions, foreign banks and official institutions, as well as vault cash in depository institutions are excluded. This transactions concept of money is the one designated as M1 in the Federal Reserves money stock statistics.
Broader concepts of money (M2 and M3) include M1 as well as certain other financial assets (such as savings and time deposits at depository institutions and shares in money market mutual funds) which are relatively liquid but believed to represent principally in vestments to their holders rather than media of exchange. While funds can be shifted fairly easily between transaction balances and these other liquid assets, the money-creation process takes place principally through transaction accounts. In the remainder of this booklet, “money” means M1.
The distribution between the currency and deposit components of money depends largely on the preferences of the public.
When a depositor cashes a check or makes a cash withdrawal through an automatic teller machine, he or she reduces the amount of deposits and increases the amount of currency held by the public.
Conversely, when people have more currency than is needed, some is returned to banks in exchange for deposits.
While currency is used for a great variety of small transactions, most of the dollar amount of money payments in our economy are made by check or by electronic transfer between deposit accounts. Moreover, currency is a relatively small part of the money stock. About 69 percent, or $623 billion, of the $898 billion total stock in December 1991, was in the form of transaction deposits, of which $290 billion were demand and $333 billion were other checkable deposits.