If professional basketball superstar LeBron James signed his jersey and gave it to you, it would certainly be a valuable asset. Why would this valuable asset not serve as a very good form of money if you took it to a shopping mall, looking to purchase a pair of shoes? Use the three roles of money in your explanation.

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In the situation you describe, the key issue is that in order for the signed jersey to be translated into monetary value, it would need to be sold and replaced with viable currency. There are several reasons for this.

In the first instance, money must be uniform. While the LeBron James jersey is a uniform of its own, it is not uniform in the sense of matching the accepted form of currency in circulation. It cannot be compared, in terms of worth, to a pair of shoes because the uniform measure of worth is the medium of money or currency, with which we put a value to both shoes and the jersey.

While the jersey is certainly durable, portable, and of limited supply—all characteristics of money—it falls down on the "acceptability" criterion. Humans historically made use of barter systems, but these fail because it is difficult to determine or demonstrate the relative worth of two items without resorting to an intermediary, such as viable currency.

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Medium of exchange: Money serves as a general medium of exchange. The t-shirt fails in this role for several reasons. The first is that it is not easily divisible. It is considerably more valuable than a pair of shoes and cannot be readily exchanged for them. Also, it is a specialty item that would likely only be of interest to certain sports fans and therefore would not be accepted as currency by most retailers. Finally, its value depends on its authenticity, and it does not have an obvious mode of authentication; there would be no easy way for anyone other than a specialist buyer to determine whether this is indeed signed by LeBron James or a fake. 

Store of value: Although many people do invest in collectibles, they are too volatile and too specialized to serve as a general store of value. It is also not liquid; its value depends on finding a collector interested in that specific item. Thus, a store would be unlikely to be interested in taking it in exchange for shoes.

Unit of account: Because the value of collectibles varies from year to year and there is no global market in this particular t-shirt, it would be an ineffective unit of account. Because stores in the mall balance their books using dollars and this shirt does not have a value consistently convertible to dollars, it would be a challenge for anything but a store specializing in buying and selling sports memorabilia to record the value of the shirt in a transaction. 

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Money is a medium of exchange for products and services. There are at least three characteristics of money that must be present in order for money to be used by people in a society. One characteristic is that money must be accepted as a medium of exchange. This may be problematic with the LeBron James jersey. Another consideration with this concept is that a person must have confidence in the value of money. A LeBron James jersey might be valued by a sports fan or by a memorabilia collector. However, a person who isn’t interested in sports may have no interest in his jersey. Therefore, it may not be accepted in exchange for products and services.

The second characteristic of money is that is must be convenient. If something is hard to carry around, it isn’t convenient to use. The LeBron James jersey certainly wouldn’t be convenient to carry and therefore wouldn’t be an acceptable form of money.

The third characteristic of money is that it must be durable. It needs to be able to change hands often without wearing out or falling apart. The jersey might fit this description.

Thus, the jersey fails to be meet all of the characteristics of money. If all of the characteristics aren’t present, then the money won’t be accepted and won't be useful.

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