Money: An Alternative Story
23 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2014
Date Written: July 1, 2005
This paper presents an alternative approach that locates the origin of money in credit and debt relations, with the unit of account emphasized as the numeraire in which credits and debts are measured. This approach de-emphasizes the medium of exchange function and the market; indeed, credits and debits can exist without markets and without a medium of exchange.
We start from the presumption that money is a fundamentally social phenomenon, whose origins must lie in varied and complex social practices. We contend that the monetary unit almost certainly required and requires some sort of authority to give it forcehence the presumption of a connection between a central authority (called "the state") and the unit of account, or currency.
We use this alternative approach to examine specific historical cases and to show that there is a different interpretation of the origin of money that is more consistent with a Keynesian/Institutionalist view of economics.
Keywords: origin of money, credit and debt relations, central authority and unit of account
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