What is money?
When asked the question, “What is Money?” most people will probably pull out a few bills from their wallet, hold them up, and say, “This is money.”
But that answer is incorrect. Money has pretty specific characteristics, and what is in your wallet probably doesn’t satisfy all of them.
Mike Maloney discusses the difference between money and currency in his excellent series, “The Hidden Secrets of Money”
The main characteristics of currency are:
Medium of exchange (you can give it away in exchange for a good or service)
Unit of Account: You can use the numerical values of it to do accounting.
Portable: You can carry it around to the store and buy something.
Durable: It will last a while.
Divisible: You can turn it into smaller amounts, or combine it and turn it into a larger amount.
Fungible: It is consistent in its properties, so you can substitute it for another equivalent amount of it of different denominations.
Money, on the other hand, has a characteristic, that currency doesn’t have: Money is a store of value.
This graphical chart shows the purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar since the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law in 1913. It has lost about 98% of its value in that period, demonstrating that the U.S. dollar is currency, but not money, because its not a particularly good store of value. It may have been a better store of value than some other currencies in that period, but on an absolute basis, it is not good, just ask someone one or two generations older than you.
Its also imporant to note that historically, most currencies end up without any value at all. Weimar Germany’s Mark (1921-1924) and the Zimbabwe Dollar(beginning late 1990’s-2009), effectively lost all their purchasing power, and now are worth much more as a collectible item than a functional currency.
Why should Rogues concern themselves with the difference between money and currency? Mainly because the value of most currencies today are determined by the actions of central bankers and governments, entities which may not have the Rogue’s best interests at heart. A debt-based system forces the value of the currency to be slowly stolen via inflation, based on the decisions of other people, and Rogues shouldn’t be happy about that.
Money, on the other hand, is a good store of economic value, but there are few things that satisfy that criteria. One that does, however, is gold. Throughout most of recorded history, gold has been accepted as a form of stored economic value, as well as a form of currency. John Pierpont Morgan noted this when he quipped, “Gold is money, everything else is credit.”
Gold has the characteristic of not being easy to reproduce like paper forms of money, which means that it is rare, and should continue to be rare. It also has the other characteristics of money.
Silver has also been considered money for much of recorded history, for similar reasons to gold. Silver has been more abundant than gold and also has more use as an industrial metal, so it tends to be perceived as having a lower value than gold. For a good portion of its history, the United States actually backed its currency with silver. You could take a dollar bill (silver certificate) to a bank and exchange it for a physical silver coin. Before 1965, dimes and quarters in the United States were actually made of 90% silver.
Notice in the following chart how consumer prices have changed since we’ve removed ourselves, and by extension the rest of the world, from any monetary metal standard. Prices were relatively stable prior to the early 70s.
Some today believe that gold and silver are relics of a bygone age and that bitcoin and the blockchain are where the future lies. While we don’t consider bitcoin money, we do think it will one day be widely considered a currency, and a currency that is independent of central banks and governments deserves serious consideration by Rogues seeking to re-exert control over their own lives.
There are three sets of medals in this series, with each set helping to familiarize the Rogue with some of the issues germane to precious metals and bitcoin. Once you fulfill the requirement for each medal, right click and save the appropriate image and post it in your social media profiles to let people know your accomplishment. Use the rectangular notices below to post in your social media feeds and timelines.
Bronze Medallion – Buy some gold, silver, bitcoin, or a combination of all three. How much you buy doesn’t particularly matter as much as you figuring out the issues surrounding their purchase including purity/legitimacy, tax implications, and storage.
Silver Medallion – Buy something with gold, silver, or bitcoin. Its all well and good to have a pile of metal tucked away in your secret place, but until you make a purchase with your booty, its difficult to consider it money.
Gold – Allocate a portion of your investment portfolio to real money. How much and what form is up to you and your financial advisors, but consider an amount that can make a difference to the goal of wealth-preservation.