If you purchase a house, you own yet another kind of asset. The value of a house comes from the fact that people can live in it. If you rent your house out, then it gives you a flow of income, much like a share in a company. If you live in your house, then you consume that flow of services, but we still think of the house as an asset because at any time you can sell your house and transfer that flow of services to someone else.
We could list many more assets, but you should be getting the general idea. Most of these assets are more complicated than the simple one-year credit contract with which we began. For one thing, they often involve a whole stream of repayments at different dates, rather than just one repayment. For another, the amounts of these payments may be uncertain. In Section 9.1 “What Is Money?”, we pointed to the different characteristics and functions of money. For most of us, the word money conjures up images of currency and coins. But some of the other assets that we listed also can perform more or less well as money. For example, bank deposits in a checking account or with a linked debit card are portable, durable, divisible, and widely acceptable and serve as a medium of exchange. In general, any asset that performs the functions of money is money. Gold can be used as a store of value and perhaps also as a unit of account, but it is not often used as a medium of exchange. There are many different assets in the world, and they vary in the extent to which they perform these different functions and thus how good they are as money.
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