Standard of deferred payment

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A standard of deferred payment is the accepted way, in a given market, to settle a debt – a deferred payment is not as widely used as are other terms for functions of money,[according to whom?] namely medium of exchange, store of value, and unit of account, though it is distinguished in some[which?] works.

Functions of money[edit]

Money is held to serve multiple distinguished but related functions, of which a "standard of deferred payment" is one.[1][2][3][4][5] The most commonly distinguished functions of money are as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, a store of value, and, sometimes, a standard of deferred payment, summarized in a mnemonic rhyme of older economics texts:

"Money is a matter of four functions: a medium, a measure, a standard and a store."

However, many never texts do not distinguish the function of a standard of deferred payment, subsuming it in other functions.[6][7][8]

Being a standard of deferred payment is one of the functions of money; it is distinct from:

  • the medium of exchange function which is used for immediate payments, not deferred payments and requires durability when used in trade, and a minimum of opportunity to cheat others — as the diamond or gold example below illustrate;
  • the store of value function, which relates to the saving, storing, and retrieval of value; and
  • the unit of account function which requires fungibility so accounts in any amount can be readily settled.

When currency is stable, money can serve all four functions. When it is not, or when complex and volatile forms of financial capital are involved, some may wish to identify a single standard of deferred payment to avoid strategic behavior. Otherwise, for example, a debtor might try to select a standard of deferred payment of debt that is forecast to drop in value so the real value of his payment to the lender will be lower. The lender can avoid this by selecting a denomination of debt that is forecast to maintain its value.

Relation to debt[edit]

A debt is a deferred payment; a standard of deferred payment is what they are denominated in. Since the value of money – be it dollars, gold, or others – may fluctuate over time via inflation and deflation, the value of deferred payments (the real level of debt) likewise fluctuates. A device is termed "legal tender" if it may serve to discharge (pay off) debts; thus, while US dollars are not backed by gold or any other commodity, they draw value from being legal tender – being usable to pay off debts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ T.H. Greco. Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender, White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green Publishing (2001). ISBN 1-890132-37-3
  2. ^ An introduction to money and banking, by Colin Dearborn Campbell, 1978, p. 23
  3. ^ Money and the economy, by John J. Klein, p. 5
  4. ^ Applied economics in banking and finance, by H. Carter, Ian Partington, p. 26
  5. ^ Money, Banking, and Monetary Policy, by Colin Dearborn Campbell, Rosemary G. Campbell, Edwin G. Dolan, 1987, p. 38–40
  6. ^ Mankiw, N. Gregory (2007). Macroeconomics (6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 0-7167-6213-7. 
  7. ^ Krugman, Paul & Wells, Robin, Economics, Worth Publishers, New York (2006)
  8. ^ Abel, Andrew; Bernanke, Ben (2005). "7". Macroeconomics (5th ed.). Pearson. pp. 266–269.