The History of Foreign Exchange

The History of Foreign Exchange

The History of Foreign Exchange

The History of Foreign Exchange

Excerpt

Books on the history of Foreign Exchange covering some limited period or some special aspect of the subject would fill a fair-sized library. But, having studied the literature on Foreign Exchange for nearly half a century, I have been unable to discover a single book in any of the principal languages that would cover the entire history of Foreign Exchange in all its main aspects from its origins to our days. I feel there is a real need for filling that gap.

Anyone who realises the great importance of Foreign Exchange in our economic system is bound to agree that the task of writing its comprehensive history was well worth undertaking. I would have gladly undertaken it even for its own sake, as an intellectual exercise, even if I had felt that it would not serve any practical purpose. Actually I am convinced that my effort was fully justified also on a purely utilitarian basis, apart from the satisfaction I derived from the illusion of having made a modest contribution to human knowledge. Anyhow, to be quite candid, I have always found it difficult to resist a challenge to attempt something that has never been attempted up to now.

It may seem strange that nobody else has tried to produce such a comprehensive history of Foreign Exchange. There are histories on many less important subjects, and the importance of Foreign Exchange is now widely realised among economic historians and monetary economists. Possibly they were deterred by the difficulty of acquiring expert knowledge on all periods -- from Babylonia to the present day. Evidently they were afraid of risking mistakes. They preferred to confine themselves to more limited subjects on which they were able to produce much material of outstanding merit, precisely because the self-imposed limitation of their scope enabled them to devote to their subject the study of a lifetime. They deserve the gratitude of students and practical men interested in Foreign Exchange.

But I feel that the time has now come for an effort to coordinate the vast material produced by a multitude of authors into a broad survey of the entire subject. It is surely to the . . .

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