The History of Money

A solid introduction to Money and Economics

Money is the key to learning economics. If money is well understood, it will clarify seemingly impenetrable economic events.

(The book is the translation of the French version published in 2005 by Le Cri ├ędition, Brussels)


Summary of the chapters:

Chapter 1: Antiquity and the birth of money

In early antiquity, the invention of writing is linked to accounting and monetary units. Antiquity was also catalyzed by money that eased trade and taxation. Such coins helped kingdoms evolve into empires.

Chapter 2: Rome and inflation

Rome experienced a strange phenomenon: inflation, which was a subtle symptom of the malfunctioning that led to the fall of the Empire.

Chapter 3: From medieval deflation to Renaissance's banking

Bankers such as the Medici took advantage of the medieval shortage of coins (marked by deflation). Especially, the Medici loaned to their allies and sponsored the Renaissance.

Chapter 4: Banknotes and the Industrial Revolution

Lacking coins, bankers loaned substitutes: banknotes. And, they loaned these to many, including to artisans that blossomed into industrials.

Chapter 5: Banknote's mishaps in the 18th century

Banknotes spread to the world, but their misuse made some fall. Excesses of the American continentals or the French assignats had many repercussions.

Chapter 6: Cycles with booms and busts in the 19th century

The economic and monetary system became more and more complex and misunderstood. Dramatically, anti-social instability and WWI arose from monetary mismanagement.

Chapter 7: Dollars, banknotes and Keynes from 1914 to 1971

Keynes (right) was ignored before WWII unlike during the postwar era, when his disciples applied keynesianism... to the extreme of the stagflation of the 1970s.

Chapter 8: Monetarism challenges Keynesianism in the 1980s

Reagan was successful thanks to his monetarist policies. France's Mitterrand insisted with keynesianism and failed before grumpily switching to unpopular monetarism. Nevertheless, unemployment and contestation didn't fade away.

Chapter 9: Troubles with monetarism

Monetarism itself experienced hiccups and excesses. What will follow is still unclear. No economist has yet come with a convincing alternative.

Chapter 10: An alternative currency to fight global warming

Global warming is now ignored, due to the economic crisis since 2008. But, how could fighting global warming could lead to economic recovery? Only a monetary change could cope with it.