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  • If you tried to pay for something with a piece of paper, you might run into some trouble.

    如果你想用一張紙付錢買東西,你可能會惹上麻煩。

  • Unless, of course, the piece of paper was a hundred dollar bill.

    當然,除非那張紙是張百元美鈔。

  • But what is it that makes that bill so much more interesting and valuable than other pieces of paper?

    但,是什麼讓這張鈔票比起其他紙張更有趣且有價值呢?

  • After all, there's not much you can do with it.

    畢竟,你能對鈔票做的事又不多。

  • You can't eat it.

    它不能吃。

  • You can't build things with it and burning it is actually illegal.

    也不能用來建造東西,而燒它甚至還違法。

  • So what's the big deal?

    那它到底有什麼了不起的?

  • Of course, you probably know the answer.

    當然,你可能知道答案。

  • A hundred dollar bill is printed by the government and designated as official currency, while other pieces of paper are not.

    百元鈔票是政府印製的官方貨幣,但其他紙張不是。

  • But that's just what makes them legal.

    但這只是它們具有法律效力的原因。

  • What makes a hundred dollar bill valuable, on the other hand, is how many or few of them are around.

    而百元美鈔的價值所在,則取決於它們數量的多寡。

  • Throughout history, most currency, including the US dollar, was linked to valuable commodities and the amount of it in circulation depended on a government's gold or silver reserves.

    歷史上大多數的貨幣包括美元,都與有價商品和流通量有關,而流通量取決於政府的金銀儲備量。

  • But after the US abolished this system in 1971, the dollar became what is known as fiat money, meaning not linked to any external resource, but relying instead solely on government policy to decide how much currency to print.

    但美國在 1971 年廢除這套制度後,美金就變成了所謂的法定貨幣,也就是不與任何外在商品掛鉤,且完全只依政府的政策來決定貨幣的發行量。

  • So which branch of our government sets this policy?

    是政府的哪個部門制定這項政策呢?

  • The executive, the legislative, or the judicial?

    行政、立法還是司法部門?

  • The surprising answer is none of the above!

    出乎意料的是,以上皆非!

  • In fact, monetary policy is set by an independent Federal Reserve System, or The Fed, made up of 12 regional banks in major cities around the country.

    事實上,貨幣政策是由獨立的聯邦準備理事會 (聯準會) 制定,這個體系是由散布在美國各大都市的十二家區域銀行所組成。

  • Its board of governors, which is appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate, reports to Congress, and all the Fed's profit goes into the US treasury.

    由總統任命並被參議院批准的聯準會委員要對國會負責,且其所有的利潤都歸美國財政部所有。

  • But to keep the Fed from being influenced by the day to day vicissitudes of politics, it is not under the direct control of any branch of government.

    但為了確保不受每天都在變化的政治所影響,所以沒有政府單位對美聯準有直接的控制權。

  • So why doesn't the Fed just decide to print infinite hundred dollar bills to make everyone happy and rich?

    那美聯準為何不乾脆印製無數張百元美鈔,讓大家開心又富有?

  • Well, because then the bills wouldn't be worth anything.

    因為這樣一來,鈔票就失去了價值。

  • Think about the purpose of currency, which is to be exchanged for goods and services.

    思考一下貨幣的用途,就是用來交易商品和服務。

  • If the total amount of currency in circulation increases faster than the total value of goods and services in the economy, then each individual piece will be able to buy a smaller portion of those things than before.

    如果流通的貨幣總數增加得比經濟體中的商品和服務價值還要快,那麼每張鈔票能買到的東西就會比之前少。

  • This is called inflation.

    這就是「通貨膨脹」。

  • On the other hand, if the money supply remains the same, while more goods and services are produced, each dollar's value would increase, in a process known as deflation.

    另一方面,如果貨幣供應量不變,但商品和服務增加,每一分錢的價值就會增加,這過程就叫「通貨緊縮」。

  • So which is worse?

    哪一種比較糟糕呢?

  • Too much inflation means that the money in your wallet today will be worth less tomorrow, making you want to spend it right away.

    過度通膨代表口袋裡的錢明天就會貶值,所以會讓你想立刻花掉。

  • So, while this would stimulate business, it would also encourage overconsumption, or hoarding commodities, like food and fuel, raising their prices and leading to consumer shortages and even more inflation.

    這雖然可以刺激商業活動,但也會造成過度消費或大量囤如食物和燃料等物品,價格的攀升會導致消費者減少,並使通膨惡化。

  • But deflation would make people want to hold onto their money.

    然而,通貨緊縮會讓人不願花錢。

  • And a decrease in consumer spending would reduce business profits, leading to more unemployment and a further decrease in spending, causing the economy to keep shrinking.

    而消費者減少支出會造成商業利潤下跌、失業率升高,進一步重挫消費,導致經濟持續緊縮。

  • So most economists believe that while too much of either is dangerous, a small, consistent amount of inflation is necessary to encourage economic growth.

    所以大多數的經濟學家認為,雖然兩種情況都很危險,但適度且穩定的通膨對於刺激經濟成長卻是必要的。

  • The Fed uses vast amounts of economic data to determine how much currency should be in circulation, including previous rates of inflation, international trends, and the unemployment rate.

    美聯準透過大量的經濟數據決定流通的貨幣數量,這些數據包括過去的通膨率、國際趨勢和失業率。

  • Like in the story of Goldilocks, they need to get the numbers just right in order to stimulate growth and keep people employed, without letting inflation reach disruptive levels.

    就像金髮女孩的故事一樣,他們必須掌握正確的數字,才能刺激經濟並穩定就業,同時避免通膨惡化到失控的程度。

  • The Fed not only determines how much that paper in your wallet is worth, but also your chances of getting or keeping the job, where you earn it.

    美聯準不只決定了你荷包裡那些紙張的價值,還掌握了你得到或保住工作的機會,也就是你賺錢的飯碗。

If you tried to pay for something with a piece of paper, you might run into some trouble.

如果你想用一張紙付錢買東西,你可能會惹上麻煩。

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為什麼美元這麼值錢? (What Gives a Dollar Bill Its Value?)

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    Ashley Chen   發佈於 2020 年 11 月 17 日
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