A money substitute consists of a secure and immediately convertible claim to money. A money substitute is not money, but is used as such.
According to Mises, money substitutes are claims to a definite amount of money, payable and redeemable on demand, against a debtor about whose solvency and willingness to pay there does not prevail the slightest doubt, render to the individual all the services money can render, provided that all parties with whom he could possibly transact business are perfectly familiar with these essential qualities of the claims concerned: daily maturity as well as undoubted solvency and willingness to pay on the part of the debtor. We may call such claims money-substitutes, as they can fully replace money in an individual's or a firm's cash holding. The technical and legal features of the money-substitutes do not concern catallactics. A money-substitute can be embodied either in a banknote or in a demand deposit with a bank subject to check ("checkbook money" or deposit currency), provided the bank is prepared to exchange the note or the deposit daily free of charge against money proper. Token coins are also money-substitutes, provided the owner is in a position to exchange them at need, free of expense and without delay, against money. To achieve this it is not required that the government be bound by law to redeem them. What counts is the fact that these tokens can be really converted free of expense and without delay. If the total amount of token coins issued is kept within reasonable limits, no special provisions on the part of the government are necessary to keep their exchange value at par with their face value. The demand of the public for small change gives everybody the opportunity to exchange them easily against pieces of money. The main thing is that every owner of a money-substitute is perfectly certain that it can, at every instant and free of expense, be exchanged against money.
Types and terminology
Apart from paper notes, the main types of such substitutes are token coins, certificates of deposit, checking accounts, credit cards, and electronic bank accounts on the Internet.
If the debtor--the government or a bank--keeps against the whole amount of money-substitutes a 100% reserve of money proper, it is called a money-certificate. The individual money-certificate is a representative of a corresponding amount of money dept in the reserve. The issuing of money-certificates does not increase the quantity of things suitable to satisfy the demand for money for cash holding. Changes in the quantity of money-certificates therefore do not alter the supply of money and the money relation. They do not play any role in the determination of the purchasing power of money.
If the money reserve kept by the debtor against the money-substitutes issued is less than the total amount of such substitutes, we call that amount of substitutes which exceeds the reserve fiduciary media. As a rule it is not possible to ascertain whether a concrete specimen of money-substitutes is a money-certificate or a fiduciary medium. A part of the total amount of money-substitutes issued is usually covered by a money reserve held. Thus a part of the total amount of money-substitutes issued is money certificates, the rest fiduciary media. But this fact can only be recognized by those familiar with the bank's balance sheets. The individual banknote, deposit, or token coin does not indicate its catallactic character.
- ↑ Ludwig von Mises. The Theory of Money and Credit, Chapter 3, The Various Kinds of Money - 1 Money and Money Substitutes. Referenced 2014-01-07.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Ludwig von Mises. Human Action, Chapter XVII. Indirect Exchange - 11. The Money-Substitutes . Referenced 2014-01-07.
- ↑ Jörg Guido Hülsmann. The Ethics of Money Production, Chapter 2. Money certificates p.35-41, referenced 2009-05-10
- Money or Money Substitutes? Implications of Selgin's Small Change Challenge (pdf) by Malavika Nair, 2011
- "Lost in a Maze of Money Aggregates?" by Robert P. Murphy, February 2011
- "Let Unsound Money Wither Away" by Joseph T. Salerno, July 2012