Money transformed the entire idea of the barter system. A medium of exchange for goods and services for centuries, money keeps matters of the world in a flow, helps countries exchange goods and services, store wealth and develop friendly relationships.
Typically, every country has a central bank that regulates and publishes the money supply data in coordination with the government.
Money is present in various forms: physical — coins, notes — and virtual — electronic bank accounts, cryptocurrencies. This makes it hard to determine how much money exists in the world right now.
What Are Different Types of Money?
Economists divide money into categories based primarily on how liquid it is, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. The range starts at the narrowest and most liquid with M0 and, in the U.S., goes up to the broadest and least liquid, M3. Each M level includes the levels that precede it, so M3 includes M0, M1 and M2.
The central bank in the U.S. is the Federal Reserve System, which publishes U.S. currency data based on three of the four Ms:
How Money Supply Is Measured
- M0: Referred to as the monetary base, M0 includes all the money in circulation, including money banks hold in reserve. According to the Federal Reserve, there was about $2.3 trillion in circulation as of January 2023.
- M1: It includes all the M0 money supply, adding the money held in travelers’ checks, demand deposits, other types of checkable deposits and negotiable orders of withdrawal. As of January 2023, the seasonally adjusted stock of M1 totaled $19.64 trillion.
- M2: It includes all of the currency from the M1 money supply, and expands to include mutual funds, smaller time deposits, money market securities and other types of time deposits. M2 currencies are usually less liquid than M1, meaning you can’t convert M2 money into cash as easily. The total stock of M2 was $21.27 trillion in January.
- M3: It includes all the elements of M2, plus institutional money market funds and large time deposits. As compared to M1 and M2, M3 assets have the lowest liquidity. The Fed no longer calculates M3.
After covering different types of money and how much is circulating and held in the U.S., here’s a look at the important question: “How much money is there in the world?”
How Much Money Is in the World?
The total amount of money in the world can be measured and expressed in many different ways, so it’s difficult to give a specific answer.
If you’re curious about the total value of notes and coins in circulation, the Bank for International Settlements estimated it to be $8,275,000,000,000, or $8.28 trillion U.S. dollars, across 20 major countries plus the euro area in 2021, its most recent estimate. Of course, there are nearly 200 countries in the world, so this is just a rough estimate of the most narrowly defined — and perhaps easiest to quantify — category of money.
The global M1 supply, which includes all the money in circulation plus travelers checks and demand deposits like checking and savings accounts, was $48.9 trillion as of Nov. 28, 2022, according to Visual Capitalist. That publication estimated the total value of the M2 supply to be $82.6 trillion.
Money is also present in the form of investments and derivatives. The total market capitalization of just the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq is over $48 trillion as of December 2022, according to Statista. The total market cap of cryptocurrency, as reported by CoinMarketCap, adds another $1.07 trillion to that figure.
Good To Know
The world’s top 10 billionaires from the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List have a total net wealth of $1.18 trillion as of March 15.
Future of Money: Is Cash Going to Be Replaced?
With countries striving hard to stabilize their economies, the total amount of money in circulation is expected to increase continuously.
Currently, more people are being drawn towards using virtual or digital currencies. This is why the use of physical money is gradually decreasing with the increased popularity of digital transactions.
China, Japan and Sweden have started trials of central bank digital currency, according to The New York Times. The Bank of England and the European Central Bank are also all set to conduct their own trials. The Bahamas has already launched the world’s first official digital currency.
There is nearly $83 trillion in the total global money supply, $48.9 trillion of which is M1. Even if digital currencies render physical money obsolete, the kinds of currencies central banks are considering would still be quantifiable — just as you can quantify your bank balance or the value of your investment portfolio despite the absence of physical money in those accounts.
FAQHere's more answers to questions about money and currency in the world today.
- Which currency is the most valuable in the world?
- The most valuable currency in the world is Kuwaiti Dinar (KWD). One U.S. dollar equals 0.30 KWD.
- What's the total value of cryptocurrencies?
- The current market capitalization of cryptocurrency is $1.07 trillion.
- The total value of cryptocurrencies had surpassed $2 trillion as of August 2021, but the crypto market saw a significant crash in May 2022 and has not yet recovered.
- What is the world's total wealth?
- According to a 2021 report from McKinsey & Company, global assets have grown from $440 trillion in 2000 to $1,540 trillion in 2020. The total net worth jumped from $160 trillion to over $510 trillion, including real estate prices, exchange rates, human resources, capital advancements and other factors.
Information is accurate as of March 15, 2023, and is subject to change.
Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.
- CNBC. 2021. "Cryptocurrency Market Cap Tops $2 Trillion for the First Time."
- CMC Markets. "Top 16 Strongest Currencies in the World."
- McKinsey. 2021. "The Rapid Growth in Global Wealth."
- Statista. 2023. "Overall cryptocurrency market capitalization per week from July 2010 to June 2022."
- Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. "Money Supply."
- U.S. Federal Reserve System. 2023. "Money Stock Measures."
- BIS. "CT2: Banknotes and coins in circulation."
- Statista. 2023. "Comparison of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq from January 2018 to December 2022, by market capitalization of listed companies."
- Forbes. "THE REAL-TIME BILLIONAIRES LIST."
- Visual Capitalist. 2022. "All of the World’s Money and Markets in One Visualization (2022)."
- The New York Times. 2021. "Cash will soon be obsolete. Will America be ready?"