In industrialized nations, the portion of the national money supply (consisting of banknotes and government-issued paper money and coins) that does not require endorsement to serve as a medium of exchange. Since the abandonment of the gold standard, governments have not been obligated to repay the holders of currency in any form of precious metal. Consequently, the volume of currency has been determined by the actions of the government or central bank and not by the supply of precious metals. In less-developed societies, or in times of economic scarcity, items such as livestock or tobacco (cigarettes) may serve as currency. See also coinage.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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