Money refers more specifically to currency, particularly the many circulating currencies with legal tender status conferred by a national state; deposit accounts denominated in such currencies are also considered part of the money supply, although these characteristics are historically comparatively recent. Money may also serve as a means of rationing access to scarce resources and as a quantitative measure that provides a common standard for the comparison and valuation of quality as well as quantity, such as in the valuation of real estate or artistic works.
The use of money provides an easier alternative to barter, which is considered in a modern, complex economy to be inefficient because it requires a coincidence of wants between traders, and an agreement that these needs are of equal value, before a transaction can occur. The efficiency gains through the use of money are thought to encourage trade and the division of labor, in turn increasing productivity and wealth.
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