Money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts.The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value, and occasionally, a standard of deferred payment.

Money originated as commodity money, then evolved to easier-to-transport representative money, in which a certificate stands for a fixed quantity of a commodity.[citation needed] However, nearly all contemporary money systems at the national level are fiat money systems. Fiat money is without value as a physical commodity, and derives its value by being declared by a government to be legal tender; that is, it must be accepted as a form of payment within the national boundaries of the country, for "all debts, public and private". By law, the refusal of a legal tender (offering) extinguishes the debt in the same way acceptance does.

In a fiat monetary system, there is no restrain on the amount of money that can be created. This allows unlimited credit creation. Initially, a rapid growth in the availability of credit is often mistaken for economic growth, as spending and business profits grow and frequently there is a rapid growth in equity prices. In the long run, however, the economy tends to suffer much more by the following contraction than it gained from the expansion in credit. This expansion in credit can be seen in the Debt/GDP ratio.

Hyper-inflation is the terminal stage of any fiat currency. In hyper-inflation, money looses most of its value rapidly. Hyper-inflation is often the result of increasing regular inflation to the point where all confidence in money is lost. In a fiat monetary system, the value of money is based on confidence, and once that confidence is gone, money irreversibly becomes worthless, regardless of its scarcity. Gold has replaced every fiat currency for the past 3,000 years. The latest example of hyper-inflation occurred in Zimbabwe between 2002 and 2008 when inflation went past measurable levels.

The money supply of a country is usually held to consist of currency (banknotes and coins) and demand deposits or 'bank money' (the balance held in checking accounts and savings accounts). These demand deposits usually account for a much larger part of the money supply than currency. Bank money is intangible and exists only in the form of various bank records. Despite being intangible, bank money still performs the basic functions of money, as checks are generally accepted as a form of payment and as a means of transferring ownership of deposit money.

The founding fathers were concerned about the unrestrained control of the money supply. One thing they all agreed upon was the limitation on the issuance of money, Thomas Jefferson warned of the damage that would be caused if the people assigned control of the money supply to the banking sector, "I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. Already they have raised up a money aristocracy that has set the government at defiance. This issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of the moneyed corporations which already dare to challenge our Government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

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