A History of Money: From AD 800

A History of Money: From AD 800

A History of Money: From AD 800

A History of Money: From AD 800

Synopsis

This book presents a detailed and surprising history of money from Charlemagne's reform in approximately AD 800 to the end of the Silver Wars in 1896. It also summarizes twentieth century development and places them in their historical context.

Excerpt

The history of money in all its facets impinges on almost every aspect of social and economic history. At one end of the spectrum it touches on the discovery of metals and mining technology, and the production of coin (and later paper) and the technological changes involved in these. It ranges over the means of circulation of money and to the institutions that emerge-different kinds of banks according to theories and circumstances-to facilitate its transmission. The story does not get far before public finance enters; in fact the needs of public finance frequently come first, and so the risks of inflation and of its effects in the economy arise. A popular notion that has appeared at many times is that purchasing power can, by a monetary innovation, somehow be increased to improve the lot of the poor. This last lies behind some of the many schemes promoting land banks and the like, where the reserves are long-term assets. In more modern times monetary policy enters the story, and its relationship with other policies and its impact on the real economy have extended the historian further.

Interestingly, in the early days of academic economic history in the first part of the twentieth century money was at the very centre of the discipline, generated a lot of excitement, and featured regularly in the academic journals. It faded somewhat after that as issues of economic growth and development became dominant. But in the closing years of the twentieth century discussion of money is returning to a more central role. This is not surprising since the great debates currently are about inflation, exchange rate regimes, the proper conduct of bankers, European central banking, and what is necessary to establish market economies in the former Soviet Union and in eastern Europe.

John Chown's book will be of interest to a wide readership for he introduces these subjects in monetary history, dealing with a host of topics of current interest and at a level accessible to a wide range of students and practitioners and policy makers. The book opens up the world of monetary history ranging over the use of coin in early medieval Europe, through its role in the commercial revolution, the great debasement of Henry VIII's reign and the Locke-Lowndes debate in the financial revolution of the late

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