Greenback

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Greenback'

A slang term for U.S. paper dollars. Greenbacks got their name from their color, however, in the mid-1800s, "greenback" was a negative term. During this time, the Continental Congress did not have taxing authority. As a result, the greenbacks did not have a secure financial backing and banks were reluctant to give customers the full value of the dollar.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'Greenback'

It took half a century to get all the foreign coins and competing state currencies out of circulation, but by the early 1800s, the U.S. was ready to try the paper money experiment again. Bank notes had been in circulation for a while, but because banks issued more notes than they had coin to cover, these notes often traded at less than face value.

In the 1860s, the U.S. created over $400 million in legal tender to finance its war against itself. These were called greenbacks simply because the backs were printed in green. The government backed this currency and stated that it could be used to pay back public and private debts. The value fluctuated according to the North's success or failure at certain stages in the war. Confederate dollars, also issued during the 1800s, followed the fate of the confederacy and were worthless by the end of the war.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Fiat Money

    Currency that a government has declared to be legal tender, but ...
  2. Federal Reserve Bank

    The central bank of the United States and the most powerful financial ...
  3. Loonie

    Colloquial term that refers to the $1 Canadian coin, and also ...
  4. Weak Dollar

    A situation where the U.S. dollar's value is decreasing relative ...
  5. Currency

    A generally accepted form of money, including coins and paper ...
  6. Federal Reserve Board - FRB

    The governing body of the Federal Reserve System. The seven members ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What will happen to my U.S.-based stock portfolio if the U.S. dollar substantially ...

    The effect of a significant depreciation in the value of the U.S. dollar on the value of an investor's U.S-based portfolio ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Options & Futures

    A Primer On The Forex Market

    Moving from equities to currencies requires you to adjust how you interpret quotes, margin, spreads and rollovers.
  2. Forex Education

    Play Foreign Currencies Against The U.S. Dollar And Win

    Don't panic when the dollar drops. Learn to exploit the greenback's decline and profit from it.
  3. Forex Education

    Commodity Prices And Currency Movements

    Find out which currencies are most affected by fluctuations in gold and oil prices, and improve your trading.
  4. Forex Education

    Dollarization Explained

    Find out how fledgling economies can find some stability in their currency and attract foreign investment.
  5. Bonds & Fixed Income

    6 Factors That Influence Exchange Rates

    Find out how a currency's relative value reflects a country's economic health and impacts your investment returns.
  6. Options & Futures

    How U.S. Firms Benefit When The Dollar Falls

    When the greenback is weak, smart investors will invest in multinational companies to benefit.
  7. Investing

    The Best Way To Approach The Currency Hedge

    Currency is going to continue to be an important factor in investment choices, particularly as the dollar strengthens.
  8. Economics

    Does A Junk Rating Reflect Russia's Fundamentals?

    Moody’s, like other credit rating agencies, has downgraded Russia’s sovereign debt rating to non-investment grade, but does this reflect Russia's economy?
  9. Investing

    Hedged ETFs That Help You Cushion Currency Impact

    If you’re an investor holding non-U.S. assets, the returns on your investments will be affected when you translate your investment from its local currency
  10. Investing

    How To Take Advantage Of A Stronger U.S. Dollar?

    If you are invested in the market, you will feel the effects of a stronger dollar, especially if overseas interests are part of your diversified portfolio

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Fixed Cost

    A cost that does not change with an increase or decrease in the amount of goods or services produced. Fixed costs are expenses ...
  2. Subsidy

    A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy ...
  3. Sunk Cost

    A cost that has already been incurred and thus cannot be recovered. A sunk cost differs from other, future costs that a business ...
  4. Technical Skills

    1. The knowledge and abilities needed to accomplish mathematical, engineering, scientific or computer-related duties, as ...
  5. Prepaid Expense

    A type of asset that arises on a balance sheet as a result of business making payments for goods and services to be received ...
  6. Gordon Growth Model

    A model for determining the intrinsic value of a stock, based on a future series of dividends that grow at a constant rate. ...
Trading Center