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Acceptability, Means of Payment, and Media of Exchange

Quarterly Review 1632 | Summer 1992

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Authors

Nobuhiro Kiyotaki

Acceptability, Means of Payment, and Media of Exchange

Abstract

This essay explains the use of fiat money, or why intrinsically useless objects are accepted as payment in transactions. People accept a particular object as a means of payment because others do: social conventions matter more than the intrinsic characteristics of the object itself. Not everything can become a fiat money, though. If an object is especially costly to hold, for example, it will not be accepted as a means of payment. This explanation of fiat money is illustrated in a simple theoretical economic model.


This essay is reprinted, with the publishers' permission, from _The New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance_, ed. Peter Newman, Murray Milgate, and John Eatwell; London: Macmillan Press, New York: Stockton Press. © Macmillan Press 1992.