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Money creation

Table of Contents:

Learning objectives

After studying this text the learner should / should be able to:

1. Comprehend what money is.

2. Outline the financial intermediaries that make up the monetary banking sector.

3. Describe the different measures of money.

4. Evaluate the money identity.

5. Describe the essence of the creation of money.

6. Expound the meaning of bank liquidity.

7. Elucidate the role of the central bank in the money creation process.


One of the great mysteries and elegant features of the financial system in general and of the banking sector in particular, is the creation of new money. The largest component of the money stock, bank deposits, is literally created by accounting entries, and the amount created or the growth rate "allowed" is the territory marked by the central bank whose main function is the implementation of monetary policy. The latter expression means "a policy on money".

Why must there be a "policy on money"? It is because there is a relationship between the growth rate in the money stock and price developments (the rate of inflation). This relationship is not even debated any longer (except by some diehards) and there is much evidence to support the strong relationship, the latest being the rate of inflation (a few quintillion million percent per annum, the highest in the history of the world) in a particular African country that has resulted from the excessive creation of money (in this case government borrowing from the banking sector and the printing of bank notes). The highest denomination bank note in this country was ZWD 100 trillion (this was after 13 zero's had already been lopped off the currency!).

What are the consequences of inflation? The consequences are profound in terms of the destruction of economic growth and employment when inflation is high.

The consequences of even slight excesses in money growth (15-20%) can be severe, such as occurred in the developed world in 2007-2009. The cause (excessive money stock growth) took place for a number of years prior to the consequences being felt, and these consequences were inevitable to many who keep an eye on world money growth.

What is too high money stock growth? It is when money growth (which reflects additional demand for goods and services) exceeds the country's ability to satisfy the additional demand in terms of production capacity (i.e. capacity, being "sticky", cannot keep up with rapidly rising demand). When this happens worldwide, balances of payments become skewed, currencies become volatile and inflation occurs worldwide, as evidenced in the increasing costs of transport and food.

The reaction of the central banks of the world to this situation is to raise interest rates, and it is this that can trigger large-scale defaulting on loans (particularly in the case of sub-prime borrowers). This can lead to large-scale banking solvability issues and government bailouts (as happened in 2007-2009).

What underlies money growth? In the main it is bank loan growth, and banks are able to create loans / credit at will to satisfy demand (and money as a consequence), assuming the borrower is creditworthy / the project funded is sound. This rests on the fact that the public generally accepts bank deposits as the main means of payments / medium of exchange.

The issue of creditworthiness / project-soundness is critical: because some banks evidence promiscuity in this regard, the banking system is inherently unstable. It is the job of the central bank to ensure financial system stability and therefore to curb the growth rate in bank loans / credit (and its counterpart money) and this they do via the manipulation of interest rates. These critical issues are the subject of this text, which we cover in the following sections:

• What is money?

• Measures of money.

• Monetary banking institutions.

• Money and its role.

• Uniqueness of banks.

• The cash reserve requirement.

• Money creation does not start with a bank receiving a deposit.

• Money creation is not dependent on a cash reserve requirement.

• There is no such thing as a money "supply".

• The money identity and the creation of money.

• Role of the central bank in money creation.

• How does a central bank maintain a bank liquidity shortage?

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