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STORING WEALTH. Almost every society now has a money economy based on
coins and paper notes of one kind or another. However, this has not
always been true. In primitive societies a system of barter was used.
Barter was a system of direct exchange of goods. Somebody could exchange
a sheep, for example, for anything in the market place that they
considered to be equal value. Barter however was a very unsatisfactory
system because people’s precise needs seldom coincided. People needed a
more practical system of exchange, and various money systems developed
based on goods, which the members of a society recognized as having a
value. Cattle, grain, teeth, shells, features, skulls, salt, elephant
tusks and tobacco have all been used. Precious metals gradually took
over because, when made into coins, they were portable, durable,
recognizable, and divisible into larger and smaller units of value.

   A coin is a piece of metal, usually disc-shaped, which bears
lettering, designs or numbers showing its value. Until the 18th and 19th
centuries coins were given monetary worth based on the exact amount of
metal contained in them, but most modern coins are based on face value,
the value the governments choose to give them, irrespective of the
actual metal content. Coins have been made of gold (Au), silver (Ag),
copper (Cu), aluminum (Al), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), plastic
and in China even from pressed tealeaves.  Most governments now issue
paper money in the form of notes, which are “promises to pay". Paper
money is obviously easier to handle and much more convenient in the
modern world. Checks, bankers, cards and credit cards are being used
increasingly and it is possibly to imagine a world where “money” in the
form of coins and paper currently will no longer be used. Even today, in
the U.S many places-especially filling stations-will not accept cash at
night for security reasons.                    


Barter and the Double Coincidence of Wants

As long as specialization was limited, desirable trades were relatively
easy to uncover. As the economy developed, however, greater
specialization in the division of labor increased the difficulty of
finding goods that each trader wanted to exchange. Rather than just two
possible types of producers, there were, say, a hundred types of
producers, ranging from potters to shoemakers. The potter in need of new
shoes might have trouble finding a shoemaker in need of pots. Barter
depends on a double coincidence of wants, which occurs only when traders
are willing to exchange their product for what the other is selling. The
cobbler must be willing to exchange shoes for the pots offered by the
potter, and the potter must be willing to exchange pots for the shoes
offered by the cobbler. Not only might this double coincidence of wants
be hard to find but after the two traders connect they would also need
to agree upon a rate of exchange—that is, how many pots should be
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