What is Fiat Money?
• Fiat money is currency which derives its
value from government regulation or law. It
differs from commodity money, which is
based on a good, often a precious metal
such as gold or silver, which has uses other
than as a medium of exchange.
History of Fiat Money
Fiat money originated in 11th century
China, and its use became widespread during
the Yuan and Ming dynasties.
The Song Dynasty in China was the first to
issue paper money, jiaozi, around the 10th
• All these pieces of paper are,
issued with as much solemnity
and authority as if they were of
pure gold or silver... and indeed
everybody takes them readily,
for wheresoever a person may
go throughout the Great Kaan's
dominions he shall find these
pieces of paper current, and
shall be able to transact all sales
and purchases of goods by
means of them just as well as if
they were coins of pure gold.
• —Marco Polo, The Travels of
Yuan dynasty banknotes are the earliest known
• An early form of fiat currency in the
American Colonies were "bills of credit".
• Provincial governments produced notes
which were fiat currency, with the promise to
allow holders to pay taxes in those notes. The
notes were issued to pay current obligations
and could be called by levying taxes at a later
Since the notes were denominated
in the local unit of account, they were
circulated from person to person in
These types of notes were issued
particularly in Pennsylvania, Virginia
Such money was sold at a discount
of silver, which the government would
then spend, and would expire at a
fixed point in time later.
After World War I, in theory, governments still
promised to redeem notes in specie on demand.
However, the costs of the war and the massive
expansion afterward made governments suspend
redemption in specie. Since there was no direct
penalty for doing so, governments were not
immediately responsible for the economic
consequences of printing more money, which led
to hyperinflation – for example the hyperinflation
in theWeimar Republic.
• Kuan note is the oldest known banknote in
the world. It was made in China circa 1380.
• The first paper money in England was issued
in the early 1600s as fiat money.
Fiat money has two
a) It does not
of intrinsic value.
b) It is decreed to be
Yuan dynasty banknotes are the
earliest known fiat money.