How the fiat system works

The global monetary system is what’s called a Fiat system in which money is a storage medium for purchasing power and a substitute for barter. Each dollar bill, euro, yen, gold ingot, or whatever currency you choose enables you to buy things as the need or want arises, thus making the barter system (trading one service or product for another) mostly obsolete.

Money then enables enterprises to develop and societies to establish subspecializations. For example, before there was money, anyone who owned land produced their own necessities and traded the surplus with other people for the things they needed.

Markets and central banks then value the relative worth of the paper (currency) based on the perception of how a particular country is governing itself, the current state of its economy, and the effects the interplay of those two factors have on interest rates.


Ex.1 Match the Polish words to their English equivalents from the text:
1. zamiennik
2. waluta
3. przedsiębiorstwo
4. społeczeństwo
5. nadwyżka
6. rynek
7. gospodarka
8. czynnik
 currency  economy  enterprise  factor  market  society  substitute  surplus


Ex.2 Match these words from the two columns to form collocations:
1. monetary bank
2. storage ingot
3. purchasing medium
4. gold power
5. central rate
6. interest system


Ex.3 Say these sentences in English using some expressions from the previous exercises:
1. Sztabki złota mogą być substytutem waluty.
2. Bank centralny odpowiada za system pieniężny i stopy procentowe w kraju.
3. Siła nabywcza społeczeństwa jest czynnikiem, który napędza (drive) gospodarkę.

I know English idioms!

In our text, we read about “gold ingots” as a substitute for money. And what does this “gold” idiom mean?
 to strike gold = to make large profits or to become rich
 A few lucky people have struck gold by investing in this company.


Phrasals, phrasals…

Money, the topic of the lesson, is used in trade – that’s obvious. But is the meaning of the phrasal verb “to trade down” obvious as well?
 1) to spend less money when you buy things than you did before
 Economists predict that shoppers will trade down this season.
 2) to buy something that is of a lower value than something you already have
 I’m trading down to a cheaper model.


Grammar corner

A fragment of the text reads: “For example, before there was money, anyone who owned land produced their own necessities and traded the surplus with other people for the things they needed.” The underlined words are all used in the same grammar tense – simple past. Moreover, they are all regular verbs! How to recognize that? Let’s remember that regular verbs form their past (and passive form) by adding “-ed” ending to the basic form of the verb.

Say these things in English using simple past tense:
1. Chciałem ci pomóc.
2. Rozmawiał z szefem dwa dni temu.
3. Zdecydowałam zmienić pracę.
4. Potrzebowali tych informacji jak najszybciej.



fiat system – system fiducjarny
global – globalny
monetary system – system monetarny, pieniężny
storage medium – środek do przechowywania
purchasing power – siła nabywcza
substitute – substytut, zamiennik
barter – wymiana bezgotówkowa, handel wymienny
bill – banknot
gold ingot – sztabka złota
whatever – jakakolwiek
currency – waluta
to enable – umożliwić
to arise – pojawiać się
thus – w ten sposób, tym samym
to trade sth for sth – wymieniać coś na coś
obsolete – przestarzały
enterprise – przedsiębiorstwo
to develop – rozwijać się
society – społeczeństwo
to establish – ustanawiać, zakładać
subspecialization – podspecjalizacja
to own – posiadać
land – grunt
necessities – artykuły pierwszej potrzeby
surplus – nadwyżka
market – rynek
central bank – bank centralny
to value – wyceniać
relative worth – względna wartość
based on – w oparciu o
perception – postrzeganie
particular – poszczególny
country – kraj
to govern (itself) – rządzić (się)
current state – aktualny stan
economy – gospodarka
interplay – wzajemne oddziaływanie
factor – czynnik
interest rate – stopa procentowa


download lesson (pdf)



Ex.1 1. substitute 2. currency 3. enterprise 4. society 5. surplus 6. market 7. economy 8. factor Ex.2
1. monetary system
2. storage medium
3. purchasing power
4. gold ingot
5. central bank
6. interest rate
1. Gold ingots may be a substitute for currency.
2. The central bank is responsible for the monetary system and interest rates in the country.
3. Purchasing power of society is a factor which/that drives economy.
Grammar corner
1. I wanted to help you.
2. He talked to the boss two days ago.
3. I decided to change the job.
4. They needed this information as soon as possible.