Money Demand Curve

What happens when individuals hold cash and don’t have their money invested in stocks or other assets? What are some reasons that would push people to hold more cash? What’s the relationship between money demand and interest rate? You will be able to answer all these questions once you read our explanation of the money demand curve. Ready? Then let's get started!

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    Money Demand and Money Demand Curve Definition

    Money demand refers to the overall demand for holding cash in an economy, whilst the money demand curve represents the relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate in the economy. Let's step back for a moment and provide a background for these terms.It is convenient for individuals to hold money in their pocket or in their bank accounts. They can make daily payments while buying groceries or going out with friends. However, keeping money in the form of cash or in checking deposits comes with a cost. That cost is known as the opportunity cost of holding money, and it refers to the money you would have made if you had invested them in an asset that generates returns. Even holding money in a checking account involves a trade-off between convenience and interest payments.

    To learn more check our article - The Money Market

    Money demand refers to the overall demand for holding cash in an economy. The money demand has an inverse relationship with the interest rate.

    You have long-term interest rates and short-term interest rates for which you can earn money. Short term interest rate is the interest rate you make on a financial asset that matures within one year. In contrast, a long-term interest rate has a more extended period of maturity, which is usually more than one year.

    If you were to keep your money in a checking account or under the pillow, you would be forgoing the interest rate that is paid on savings accounts. This means that your money will not grow as time passes, but it remains the same. This is especially important when there are inflationary periods when if you were not to place your money in an asset that generates a return, the money you have would lose value.

    Think about it: if prices rose by 20% and you had $1,000 at home, then, the following year, the $1,000 will buy you only $800 worth of goods due to the 20% price increase.

    Usually, during an inflationary time, the money demand increases significantly, as people demand more cash and want to have their money in their pockets to keep up with the rising cost of goods. One important thing to keep in mind is that when the interest rate is high, there is less demand for money, and when the interest rate is low, there is more demand for money. That is because people don't have the incentive to put their money in a savings account when it is not providing a high return.

    The money demand curve represents the relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate in the economy. Whenever there is a decrease in the interest rate, the quantity demanded of money increases. On the other hand, the amount of money demanded drops as the interest rate rises.

    Money demand curve depicts the quantity of money demanded at various interest rates

    Money demand curve is negatively sloped as there is a negative relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate. In other words, the money demand curve is downward sloping because of the interest rate, which represents the opportunity cost of holding money.

    Money Demand Graph

    The money demand curve can be depicted on a graph which represents the relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate in the economy.

    Money demand curve StudySmarter OriginalsFigure 1. Money demand curve, StudySmarter Originals

    Figure 1 above shows the money demand curve. Notice, that whenever there is a decrease in the interest rate, the quantity demanded of money increases. On the other hand, the quantity of money demanded drops as the interest rate rises.

    Why is the money demand curve downward sloping?

    The money demand curve is downward sloping because the economy's overall interest rate affects the opportunity cost individuals face when holding money at different levels of the interest rate. When the interest rate is low, the opportunity cost of maintaining cash is also low. Therefore, people have more cash on hand than when the interest rate is high. This causes an inverse relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate in the economy.

    Often people confuse the change in interest rate with shifts in the money demand curve. The truth is that whenever there is a change in interest rate, it results in a movement along the money demand curve, not a shift. The only change in external factors, apart from the interest rate, cause the money demand curve to shift.

    Movement along the money demand curve StudySmarter OriginalsFigure 2. Movement along the money demand curve, StudySmarter Originals

    Figure 2 shows movement along the money demand curve. Notice that when the interest rate falls from r1 to r2, the quantity of money demanded increases from Q1 to Q2. On the other hand, when the interest rate increases from r1 to r3, the quantity of money demanded drops from Q1 to Q3.

    Causes of a Shift in the Money Demand Curve

    The money demand curve is sensitive to many external factors, which could cause it to shift.

    Some of the leading causes of the shift in the money demand curve include:

    • changes in the aggregate price level
    • changes in real GDP
    • changes in technology
    • changes in institutions

    Shifts in the money demand curve StudySmarter OriginalsFigure 3. Shifts in the money demand curve, StudySmarter Originals

    Figure 3 shows a rightward (from MD1 to MD2) and a leftward (from MD1 to MD3) shift in the money demand curve. At any given interest rate level such as r1 more money will be demanded (Q2 compared to Q1) when there is a shift of the curve to the right. Similarly, at any given interest rate such as r1 less money will be demanded (Q3 compared to Q1) when there is a shift of the curve to the left.

    Note, that on the vertical axis, it is the nominal interest rate rather than the real interest rate. The reason for that is the nominal interest rate captures the real return you receive from investing in a financial asset as well as the loss in purchasing power that results from inflation.

    Let’s look at how each of the external factors could influence the money demand curve.

    Change in the Aggregate Price Level

    If the prices increase significantly, you will have to have more money in your pocket to cover the additional expenses that you would incur. To make it more accurate, think about the money in your pocket your parents had to have when they were your age. The prices at the time your parents were young were significantly lower: almost anything cost less than it costs now. Therefore, they needed to keep less money in their pocket. On the other hand, you need to hold much more cash than your parents had to as everything now is more expensive than it used to be. This then causes the money demand curve to shift to the right.

    In general, an increase in the aggregate price level will cause a rightward shift in the money demand curve. This means that individuals in the economy will demand more money at any given level of interest rate. If there is a decrease in the aggregate price level, it will be associated with a leftward shift in the money demand curve. This means that individuals in the economy will demand less money at any given level of interest rate.

    Changes in Real GDP

    Real GDP measures the total value of all goods and services produced in the economy adjusted for inflation. Whenever there is an increase in real GDP, it means that there are more goods and services available than there were before. These additional goods and services will be consumed, and to consume them, people will need to purchase them by using money. As a result, there will be an increase in money demand whenever there is a positive change in real GDP.

    In general, when more goods and services are produced in the economy, the money demand curve will experience a rightward shift, resulting in more quantity demanded at any given interest rate. On the other hand, when there is a drop in the real GDP, the money demand curve will shift leftward, resulting in less quantity of money demanded at any given interest rate.

    Changes in Technology

    Changes in technology refer to the availability of money for individuals, which affects the money demand curve.

    Before a significant growth in information technologies, it was much harder for individuals to access cash from the bank. They had to wait forever in line to cash out their checks. In today’s world, ATMs and other forms of fintech have made the accessibility of money much easier for individuals. Think about Apple Pay, PayPal, Credit cards, and Debit cards: almost all stores in the U.S. accept payments from such technologies. This then has impacted the money demand of individuals as it became easier for them to make payments without having to hold cash. This, arguably, resulted in an overall decrease in the quantity of money demanded in the economy, due to a leftward shift in the money demand curve.

    Changes in Institutions

    Changes in institutions refer to rules and regulations that influence the money demand curve. Before, banks weren’t allowed to provide interest payments on checking accounts in the United States. However, this has changed, and now banks are allowed to pay interest on checking accounts. Interest paid on checking accounts has significantly impacted the money demand curve. Individuals can keep their money in checking accounts while still receiving an interest payment on them.

    This caused the demand for money to increase, as the opportunity cost of holding money instead of investing it in an interest-bearing asset was removed. This, arguably, caused the money demand curve to shift rightward. However, there is no significant impact compared to price levels or real GDP, as the interest paid on checking accounts is not as high as some other alternative assets.

    Examples of the Money Demand Curve

    Let's take a look at some examples of money demand curves.

    Think about Bob, who works at Starbucks. Before the price of goods at Costco went up by 20%, Bob was able to save at least 10% of his income in a savings account. However, after the inflation hit and everything became more expensive, Bob needed at least 20% more cash to cover the extra expenses as a result of inflation. This means that his demand for money has gone up by at least 20%. Now imagine everyone is in the same position as Bob. Every grocery store has increased its prices by 20%. This causes the overall money demand to increase by 20%, meaning a rightward shift in the money demand curve that results in more quantity of money demanded at any given level of interest rate.

    Another example could be John, who decided to save money for his retirement. Every month he invests 30% of his income in the Stock Market. This means that John's money demand has dropped by 30%. It is a shift to the left of John's money demand curve rather than a movement along the curve.

    Think of Anna, who lives and works in New York City. When the interest rate increases to 8% from 5%, what will happen to the money demand of Anna? Well, when the interest rate rises to 8% from 5%, it becomes more expensive for Anna to hold cash, as she could invest it and earn interest on her investment. This causes a movement along Anna's money demand curve, where she wants to hold less cash.

    Money Demand Curve - Key takeaways

    • Money demand refers to the overall demand for holding cash in an economy. The money demand has an inverse relationship with the interest rate.
    • The money demand curve represents the relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate in the economy.
    • Some of the leading causes of the shift in the money demand curve include: changes in the aggregate price level, changes in real GDP, changes in technology, and changes in institutions.
    • The economy's overall interest rate affects the opportunity cost individuals face when holding money at different levels of the interest rate. The higher the opportunity cost of holding money, the fewer money will be demanded.
    • The money demand curve is downward sloping because of the interest rate, which represents the opportunity cost of holding money.
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    Frequently Asked Questions about Money Demand Curve

    What is money demand curve?

    Money demand curve depicts the quantity of money demanded at various interest rates.

    What causes the money demand curve to shift?

    Some of the leading causes of the shift in the money demand curve include changes in the aggregate price level, changes in real GDP, changes in technology, and changes in institutions. 

    How do you interpret money demand curve?

    The money demand curve represents the relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate in the economy.


    Whenever there is a decrease in the interest rate, the quantity demanded of money increases. On the other hand, the amount of money demanded drops as the interest rate rises.

    Is the money demand curve positively or negatively sloped?

    Money demand curve is negatively sloped as there is a negative relationship between the quantity of money demanded and the interest rate.

    Is money demand curve downward sloping?

    The money demand curve is downward sloping because of the interest rate, which represents the opportunity cost of holding money.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    The money demand curve is downward sloping because of ______

    True or False: The higher the opportunity cost of holding money, the less money will be demanded. 

    True or False: An increase in the nominal interest rate will increase the money demanded.

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