No adjustments. Typically, the research on this website analyzes each publicly available economic metric and money supply as is—without corrections, never using seasonally adjusted data. However, there some instances where corrections or adjustments must be made.

Regarding fiat. The government fiat base money supplies analyzed in our research comprise the top 50 currencies in the world. These currencies represent 97%+ of the global economy. Nineteen of the 50 currencies have money stock data stretching back to the early 1970s or earlier. The analysis begins on 31 December 1969, both to cover the full decade of the 1970s, but more importantly because the Bretton Woods system fully collapsed in 1971, and gold became severed from the US dollar, thus completely losing its legal ‘reserve’ and ‘basic money’ status. From 15 August 1971, gold lost any (already waning) legal quality as a ‘reserve currency,’ and government fiat currencies essentially became ‘their own thing.’ There was no further claim or IOU attached to any government fiat currency from this point. Government currencies became completely ‘irredeemable,’ and henceforward government fiat currencies became another form of ‘base money’ in the world.

Thus is basic money—irreducible, final and ultimate settlement media in any economy’s financial system.

An important point to note is that, economically, though the US dollar is not the world’s ‘reserve currency’ anymore (nor ‘backed’ by gold), it still does retain a role as the ‘global unit of account.’ All central banks will have, first and foremost, the exchange rate that their own currency commands with the USD, listed prominently on their own website, as well as in a historical time series. The USD currency markets are unquestionably the most liquid in the world. Some central banks, interestingly, will even fetch ‘black market’ rates with the US dollar. In any event, the world today demands a fiat unit of comparison beyond that of the gold ounce, and that unit of account is both practically and prominently the US dollar, in the global market. For the moment, and until Bitcoin is ‘larger’ in value than the global monetary base in dollar terms, that global unit of account is not Bitcoin.

Floating versus fixed. We are defining a ‘floating’ currency as any monetary regime that is not a currency board nor conventional peg, according to the IMF. Earlier versions of this analysis calculated only floating currencies in this sense; however, we now include all currencies regardless of exchange rate regime. It should be stressed, currencies that are thus ‘fixed’ according to our definition do have an element of ‘backing’ by one of the floating currencies (and thus, a slightelement of double-counting). However, the majority of backing for any fixed currency is typically from liquid government securities (such as the Hong Kong dollar, a currency board regime primarily backed by a US Treasury portfolio). Yet again, there are cases in which pegged currencies do have quite a large base money or central bank reserve account ‘behind’ their currency—the Danish krone or the Emirati dirham, for example. Regardless, this nuance in a post-Bretton Woods system isn’t enough to merit further delineation. Even a sovereign’s monetary base which is pegged or boarded is still final and ultimate settlement within its own individual economy.

No separate legal tender. A small amount of nations, such as Panama, don’t even issue their own currency. They simply use the US dollar. Their economic areas therefore don’t factor in; or, more accurately, their basic money is already included under the economic impact of one of the floating currencies. You can see what monetary regime the IMF assigns to each nation’s currency in the PDFs of the quarterly updates. We update this once per year.

Notes versus coins. Regarding the basic money supply definition itself, this typically means a central bank’s cash banknotes and coin that are minted and outstanding, plus the commercial bank reserves at the central bank. Some central banks, like the Bank of Japan, include both their nation’s total banknotes and coin on their balance sheet. Some central banks, like the US Federal Reserve, include only banknotes. The St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve adjusts for this, and publishes a separate, headline monetary base inflation series, which includes all the cash banknotes and coin in the United States. We do use that adjusted series here. But typically, we are reporting only what each central bank defines as its own monetary base, on its own balance sheet. In a few cases, where the supply of coins is readily available but also not already included in the central bank’s balance sheet, we do add the value of their currency’s coins into the calculation. Other than this, no adjustments are made.

Regarding gold & silver. These commodity supplies are also shown for perspective, as they functioned as base money of the past. As mentioned, and just like fiat currencies, to make any sense of these supplies, we must measure them in an appropriate unit of comparison (US dollars), so we do that here. Equally important and interesting, however, and a data point which is not typically shown, is that we display the native units of the metal supply in billion ounces. This should be more widely understood, because even though gold and silver are ‘de-monetized’ today, all precious metals are priced in the market at US dollars per ounce (as opposed to tonnes, which is typically the unit when larger stocks of the stuff are reported).

We are break out three different values for gold and silver. The first is the all-time supplies of gold and silver ever mined, from antiquity (and also valued in today’s main unit of account, US dollars).

The next and most important supply grouping is the ‘available’ supplies of gold and silver; that is, all gold and silver that is estimated to not have been consumed by industry. In other words, the estimated above-ground supply of bullion (coins and bars) and also jewelry and silverware. Jewelry is an important component of the gold and silver industry and its market price, as it’s over 50% of the gold stock and almost 90% of the silver stock (including silverware). It should always be included for an above-ground, apples-to-apples comparison of all metal that (theoretically) could be melted down and monetized. Again, these precious metal stocks are also valued in US dollar terms, and it is these values that are the comparable values used against Bitcoin’s market cap and the total fiat monetary base.

Finally, we do calculate a third, smaller supply stock, and that is only the amount of gold and silver presumed to exist in bullion form. Bullion is minted coins and bars (which is traditionally called ‘monetary’ gold and silver). Though much of the private bullion market is extremely opaque, there are plenty of industry reports from which this figure can be backed into. It’s important to note that this bullion figure, as a proportion of the all-time supply mined, is much larger for gold (~40%) that it is for silver (~6%).

Of course, no one knows for certain the true amounts of each. There are many organizations that estimate this; our data is primarily sourced from industry expert Nick Laird. Though Laird’s data provides consistent, headline metal figures, other estimates are cross-referenced from World Gold Council, Silver Institute, USGS, and CPM Group.

Regarding Bitcoin. Consistent with the capital ‘B’ for the system and lowercase ‘b’ for the monetary unit, this exhibit (and entire website and podcast) has long been an early voice in focused, rigorous expressions of bitcoins as ‘basic money.’ It is a question of the natural, native, economic characteristic of bitcoins (and yes, more precisely the UTXOs of the system) before anything else. It is not a question of which money supply or investment class one ‘thinks’ bitcoins should be categorized under. The world had never seen basic money in digital form before the emergence of Bitcoin. Even earlier prototypes such as digicash or e-gold were always custodial receipts backed by centralized third parties at the end of the day—if the centralized parties went away, so did the money. As the Bitcoin system has no centralized third party behind it, it is more like gold and silver in this manner, and less like government fiat base money. At the same time, government fiat base money is indeed base money across the entire world because it has what silver, gold, and bitcoins do not—legal tender status, mandated by the state, by a monopoly which is called the central bank.

Regarding growth rates. Our headline growth rates (inflation rates) for gold and silver will always display the cumulative supply and mine production, lost or not, industrial or not. Looking at an all-time stock outstanding for both gold and silver intuitively makes sense from a supply-demand perspective.

It’s important to understand that all monetary inflation rates reported in our base money research are compounded, annualized rates. These rates have nothing to do with general or consumer price inflation (an impossible metric to calculate). These inflation rates we calculate only measure the rate of change in the money stock; otherwise known as the money growth rate, or money production rate. Traditionally in economics, to be sure, this increase in supply was called the inflation rate.

So it’s important to remember that all fiat units are always reported as ‘euros upon euros’ or ‘yen upon yen.’

To arrive at our headline, blended, ‘global fiat’ inflation rate, however, we do apply a weighting scale. This scale is dynamic and changes every month, based on the US dollar weight of each currency’s monetary base value, as a proportion of the total for that period. In this sense, the USD market exchange rate does come into play in our analysis, but only in regards to this headline, blended inflation rate number. One then realizes with a cursory glance that the top four base money supplies in the world (USD, EUR, JPY, & CNY) thus easily clear an 80% weighting of this global fiat inflation rate. In early decades, where a fiat base money supply and its growth rate’s data were unavailable, that currency simply didn’t have a weight factor for that period.

As we are only including the top 50 currencies for the moment, you will notice that ‘newsworthy’ inflationary currencies like those in Venezuela, Belarus, or Zimbabwe aren’t included. As the relative value (in USD terms) of their base money supplies are so small anyway, they would push the weight of our headline, global inflation numbers very little, if at all. However, there are two prominent economies over the last 50 years whose floating currencies do factor in and which have gone through many bouts of monetary hyperinflation—the (many) currencies of Brazil and Argentina. Though one could use many methods to compute compound growth for this analysis, to deal with these currency defaults, we are using Method 2 as described in the Financial formulas section.

We are summarizing money growth rates across three different time frequencies—annual compounding based on 1 month, the last 12 months, and however many months since the central bank published its monetary base data. The next column, doubling time, is derived from the overall (since begin date) compound growth rate column. That is the most meaningful figure in terms of doubling time, as one can then say, for example, “In the United States, since 1969, the base money stock has doubled approximately every 8 years.”

Regarding monetary usage. All base money supplies, whether government fiat, gold and silver, or bitcoins, will always include ‘lost’ or ‘frozen’ components. It is up to the market to value this, and it’s always emergent. It should also be recognized that bitcoin is more unique than gold and silver, because 100% of bitcoins will always have a monetary purpose, whereas a distinct proportion of gold and silver always held a non-monetary (ornamental, jewelry, and even industrial) purpose. In the age of government fiat, of course, the paper always comes intended with a monetary purpose. The notable exceptions are the numerous cases of hyperinflation, when the paper acquires a variety of other use-cases, such as heating and bodily cleaning.