Knut Wicksell: Selected Essays in Economics - Vol. 2

By Knut Wicksell; Bo Sandelin | Go to book overview

15

THE MONETARY PROBLEMS OF THE FUTURE

The dispute about the most suitable metal or standard for money, about ‘die Währung’, as the Germans call it, using a word which is untranslatable into Swedish, this dispute that has so occupied politicians, financiers and economists in past decades, has concluded with a virtually complete victory for one of the competing systems, gold monometallism. If Austria-Hungary, as expected, adopts the convertibility of its notes into gold, as of this current year, the pure gold standard, or monetary systems that in practical terms coincide with the gold standard in all essential respects, will prevail in all the major European countries, as in most modern societies outside our continent; and since the abundant production of gold continues to place large stocks of gold at the world’s disposal every year, it can be taken for granted that Austria—Hungary’s example will gradually be followed by all other countries, both those that still use a depreciated paper currency and the few remaining silver-standard countries, to the extent that their financial strength permits it. One of these silver countries, namely, British India, can already be said to be on the gold standard now, though still with gold reserves that would normally be regarded as far too limited, and the transition from silver to gold as the measure of value has been made there in a fashion so simple that it is bound to occasion surprise, not to say admiration. For since the Indian mints were closed to the free minting of rupees, about 10 years ago, with rupees now being coined only for the account of the State, and since the English gold sovereign was declared legal tender in India in 1899, at a fixed rate of £1 sterling to 15 rupees, there has actually existed in India, at least in principle, approximately the same monetary system as in the Latin Monetary Union or in the Netherlands, namely the ‘limping’ bimetallic standard, where because of the suspension of coinage, the silver coins, like our own petty coins, acquire a fictitious value independent of the value of the metal and at present far in excess of this value, while the value of the gold coins, which may still be freely minted, is strictly in proportion to the value of the unminted metal—and of course in fact, this is

Originally published as ‘Framtidens myntproblem’, Ekonomisk Tidskrift, 1904.

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