Knut Wicksell: Selected Essays in Economics - Vol. 2

By Knut Wicksell; Bo Sandelin | Go to book overview

16

STABILIZING THE VALUE OF MONEY

A means of preventing crises

In the December 1906 issue {of Ekonomisk Tidskrift}, there is an essay by the editor entitled ‘A few words on the concept of “the value of money”’, the main content of which is a critique of the proposal that I presented in the second volume of my published lectures, as previously in my book Geldzins und Güterpreise [Interest and Prices], for giving money, as far as possible, a constant exchange value or purchasing power. Some of the remarks that Prof. Davidson thus makes deal with certain questions of a rather abstract kind concerning the actual meaning of the concept referred to; in my opinion, it would still be premature to say that any particular doctrine had settled these issues conclusively—for the time being, I suppose we shall have to be content to allow the discussion to be the answer to the question, as the phrase goes. Others, however, are of direct practical significance, and where these are concerned, I should like to attempt to continue to defend my point of view a little longer. In so doing, I am motivated particularly by the ongoing and sadly topical debate about crises and their causes, and for this reason, I beg to return to the subject, albeit belatedly, in this essay.

Davidson’s criticisms can probably be summed up in three principal points. First, he comments that the very act of equating the concept of the value of money with the purchasing power of money with respect to goods and services involves a logical inconsistency, since the standard of measurement thus comes to depend on the object to be measured. Second, he disputes the claim that it is desirable for money to have a constant purchasing power whatever the circumstances, and criticizes in particular my failure to provide any conclusive evidence for this assertion of mine; I have only postulated it. Finally, and this criticism I consider to be the most important, he attempts to show that in certain circumstances, the regulation of the purchasing power of money or the general level of commodity prices that I propose, by means of the raising or lowering of the bank rate, is ‘not merely super-

Originally published as ‘Penningvärdets stadgande, ett medel att förebygga kriser’, Ekonomisk Tidskrift, 1908.

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