What Is the Money Supply?
The U.S. money supply comprises currency—dollar bills and coins issued by the Federal Reserve System and the U.S. Treasury—and various kinds of deposits held by the public at commercial banks and other depository institutions such as thrifts and credit unions. On June 30, 2004, the money supply, measured as the sum of currency and checking account deposits, totaled $1,333 billion. Including some types of savings deposits, the money supply totaled $6,275 billion. An even broader measure totaled $9,275 billion.
These measures correspond to three definitions of money that the Federal Reserve uses: M1, a narrow measure of money’s function as a medium of exchange; M2, a broader measure that also reflects money’s function as a store of value; and M3, a still broader measure that covers items that many regard as close substitutes for money.
The definition of money has varied. For centuries, physical commodities,