A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

A History of Money: From Ancient Times to the Present Day

Synopsis

A History of Money begins with the origins of primitive money and the development of coins up to the fall of Rome. The book then moves on to discuss money throughout the ages, up to the present day and the European Monetary System.

Excerpt

In our technological age too many agree with Henry Ford's blunt dictum that history is bunk, though he was far from thinking that money was bunk. This ambivalent attitude remains prevalent today in the general approach to economic and financial studies, so that whereas there is a superabundance of books on present-day monetary and financial problems, politics and theories, it is my contention first that monetary histories are far too scarce and secondly that those which do exist tend in the main to be far too narrow in scope or period.

Because of the difficulties of conducting 'experiments' in the ordinary business of economic life, at the centre of which is money, it is most fortunate that history not only generously provides us with a potentially plentiful proxy laboratory, a guidebook of more or less relevant alternatives, but also enables us to satisfy a natural curiosity about the key role played by money, one of the oldest and most widespread of human institutions. Around the next corner there may be lying in wait apparently quite novel monetary problems which in all probability bear a basic similarity to those that have already been tackled with varying degrees of success or failure in other times and places. Yet despite the antiquity and ubiquity of money its proper management and control have eluded the rulers of most modern states partly because they have ignored the wide-ranging lessons of the past or have taken too blinkered and narrow a view of money.

Economists, and especially monetarists, tend to overestimate the purely economic, narrow and technical functions of money and have placed insufficient emphasis on its wider social, institutional and psychological aspects. However, as is shown in this study, money . . .

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