On 21 May, at Asymptosis and at Angry Bear, Steve Roth wrote:
I’ve bruited the notion in the past that “money” should be technically defined, as a term of art, as “the exchange value embodied in financial assets.”
In the past, in other words, Steve has spread the idea that the definition of money should be such-and-so (as given in the excerpt above).
Maybe he has spread that idea in the past, and regrets it now. Or maybe he is continuing to spread that idea in his post of the 21st. I assume the latter, but let's leave the door open.
In this definition, counterintuitively relative to the vernacular, dollar bills aren’t money. They’re embodiments of money, as are checking-account balances, stocks, bonds, etc. etc...
I think that's supposed to be a clarification. The list of financial assets creates an aura of familiarity. But forget the list, and focus on the statement: In this definition... dollar bills aren’t money. They’re embodiments of money...
That's his second use of the word "embody" -- and we're only three sentences in to the post.
So Roth says dollar bills aren't money; they're just a tangible or visible form of money... or the representation or expression of money. Dollar bills and all the other kinds of financial assets are not money, but are representations of money.
More words, less meaning.
Skip a sentence, and resume with the next paragraph:
If this definition is safe, then the stock of money ... equals the total value of financial assets. Forget the endless wrangling about monetary base, M1, M2, divisias, and all that. Add up the value of all financial assets, and that’s the money stock.
Another list. Forget the list. Roth is saying that financial assets are the money stock. Or possibly, that the value of all those financial assets is the money stock.
In a comment on mine, Roth writes:
One thing I'm saying is that financial assets=money is wrong. You keep saying I'm saying that, and I'm not.
So I guess he means it's the value of all those financial assets that is the money stock, not the assets. But money is not value, and value is not money.
It's like squeezing a balloon. For a moment it feels like you've got something. But squeeze a little tighter, and there's nothing there.