Money: An Alternative Story

23 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2014

See all articles by Eric Tymoigne

Eric Tymoigne

Lewis & Clark College

L. Randall Wray

University of Missouri at Kansas City; Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

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 forceĀ—hence 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

Suggested Citation

Tymoigne, Eric and Wray, L. Randall, Money: An Alternative Story (July 1, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Eric Tymoigne (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark College ( email )

0615 SW Palatine Hill Road
Portland, OR 97204
United States

L. Randall Wray

University of Missouri at Kansas City ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
United States

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