57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 1999
I teach a one-quarter course in economic principles, and I always use this wonderful little book for a portion of it. Although the book is not very long, and Rothbard's style is extremely readable, he packs a lot of information and perspective into it. My students have an overall high opinion of this book (and the predictable low opinion of the main text book). No previous background or knowledge of money, monetary history, or economics is required to read and understand this great work. Rothbard starts in a "Robinson Crusoe" world, that is, a world in which Crusoe is the only person. He then adds more people, and shows how money arises, and exactly what money is (and what it is NOT!). I not only highly recommend it, I REQUIRE it for my students.
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2001
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The late Murray Rothbard's short volume is the best single introduction available to monetary theory -- and to the sort of fiscal jiggery-pokery that becomes possible to the State which takes control of the currency.
Here the reader will find a short introduction to what money is in the first place (and how it arises on a free market); how fiat currency makes inflation possible and allows the State to steal funds without anybody noticing; and what sound monetary policy would look like in the unlikely event that the State can ever be persuaded to take its fingers out of the pie. As is typical of Rothbard, the whole is presented with clarity, rigor, and wit.
Readers who like what they find here may want to go on to Ludwig von Mises's _Theory of Money and Credit_ -- which Rothbard describes somewhere as the best book ever on monetary theory.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2002
"What Has Government Done to Our Money" is an excellent introduction to the consistent libertarian view of money; namely, that government need not intervene in a nation's monetary life at all (either by printing money or regulating banks). In a relatively short number of pages, Rothbard explains money, inflation, banking, and the history of monetary policy. Rothbard notes that the dream of the banksters is a single currency that can be inflated at will. With the rise of the EU and the Euro, we are getting closer to that day.
Don't stop with this book -- be sure to get Rothbard's "A History of Money and Banking in the US" and also "The Mystery of Banking."
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2000
This book should be REQUIRED reading at the high school level if not earlier. There is hardly any clearer explanation of money (real) and the fiat system that we now suffer under. I have read much the same thing in other books, usually covered in one chapter as part of a larger subject (such as the workings of the FED), but this short tome covers the subject without any fluff, yet thoroughly enough to give the beginner a sound grounding. It was a good refresher for myself. Mr.Rothbard's arguments for sound money are of impeccable logic. His call for a return to gold is now a cry in the wilderness, for most Americans, and apparently some Australians have been so brainwashed in hardly more than a generation that they are willing to accept their fate under a false system. I only wish that Mr. Rothbard had given more historical parallels in his book. As I recall, Roman money was being debased during their decline! All in all, this is a book not to be missed. And I highly recommend any of Rothbard's works.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This book is simply a classic, and I think that there is little in it that will be overturned by further discoveries about the nature of money. Of course, even if this was to happen, the book will remain one of the best and clearest introductions to the topic of money. The book is also a great example of expository and didactic prose, so it can also be read in that context.
In this book, Rothbard discusses the history and nature of money, and by doing both, explains to the reader what is wrong with the monetary system that the world operates on today. Parts of his writing will be familiar to anyone who has taken a course in economics where money was discussed. However, the more subtle facts about money (the money regression theorem, Gresham's Law, government intereference, the reasons he gives for the government's renunciation of the gold standard etc.) will be new and interesting territory for many readers. Of course, if the ideas of this book are read and combined with the other ideas espoused by Austrian Economics, of which the author was a great proponent, then the truth and coherence of his arguments are very strong.
I strongly recommend this book. Even those (like me) who do not agree with Rothbard's anarchism will find a lot in it that is good.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2004
I know what you're thinking: "Wow, a book on the finer points of monetary policy and its geopolitical legacies throughout history....my eyelids are getting heavy already..." You may not, however, get to sleep too quickly afterward as a result of this book-it's too short and well-written for that. Plus, the implications of a collapse in the value of the dollar and having all of your life savings being worth a medium-sized Pepsi at Burger King is not all that comforting, either. While the furor over money and its value has died down considerably since the 1970s, Inflation, unfathomable amounts of government debt, and ever increasing amounts of spending on all fronts means that asking "where did the money go?" will not soon go out of style.
Murray Rothbard, one of the most influential economists of the late 20th century, wrote this book-essentially a glorified policy memo (read: Math-free reading)-at the end of the 1970s, when America was in the final stages of the most devastating period of inflation in its history. His book, "What Has Government Done to Our Money?", talks about what money is and can be, the ways in which currency REALLY works, why more "money" in everybody's pocket really isn't "more money", and how almost all of any government intervention into the realm of the worth of money makes things worse instead of better. And just when you wonder about how any of this applies to the real world, it charts a course from the Worldwide Gold Standard years at the end of the 19th century up through the late 1970s. He looks at how great coutries like America, Great Britain, and others almost bakrupted themselves and their citizens through ignorant and irresponsible policies regarding their respective currencies. Through it all, he makes continuous and well-thought-out arguments for a standard of exchange based on an outside measure of value-gold-and pleas for governments of all kinds to exercise financial restraint.
If you ever wondered about why prices keep going up, if you ever wondered why cars don't cost $2,000 anymore, if you asked questions like this and never thought you were getting a full answer, this is the book you need to read. You may never look at money the same way again, and you'll probably be richer for it, too.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2011
I have an undergraduate degree in Economics, an MBA from an Ivy league school. I have spent (wasted) hundreds of hours reading Smith, Marshall, Mankiw, and Galbraith and other Economic Alchemists. I have read hundreds of issues of The Economist and Thousands of issues of the WSJ & Financial Times. It was only after that ineffective effort that I stumbled on the truly great works that are out there.
If I could do it all over, I would spend far less time to learn correctly, after which all the voodoo (ex post facto) econometric models will make you laugh. I would start with Rothbard, but would season it with the brilliant Economic thinkers who preceded him, Ricardo, Cantillon, Turgot and Bastiat most notably, and older contemporaries, James M. Buchanan & Mises. This would take far less time and would be priceless to you in understanding big issues in society and in your every day life. In my opinion, Rothbard did more to accurately clarify economic issues than anyone in the past 50 years. You can only benefit yourself by reading his works & listening to his talks (free if you search for them).
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2000
This book is a rarity: an economics book you won't want to put down. Rothbard patiently guides us all the way from the origins of money in the ancient past to the present-day monetary system. No rational person can read this book and still believe in the alleged virtues of fiat money.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2000
Murray Rothbard makes the case against the Federal Reserve, socialist central banking schemes and inflationary fiat money. This book's detractor from Brazil apparently doesn't see the politics behind Keynesian economics --socialism.
I recommend reading this book along with Ludwig von Mises' Theory of Money and Credit.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2001
I own several copies of this book. I have also written a study guide for it, with key included, that contains multiple-choice and short answer questions. The positive reviews of this book are all right on the mark. I can hardly add to them. As for the negative reviews, note that Brazilian doesn't support his contention at all and the Australian resorts to an appeal to authority, one of the weakest of all types of argument. This book is a classic gem!