- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (September 14, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198709587
- ISBN-13: 978-0198709589
- Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 1.1 x 6.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism Reprint Edition
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"The book is a great read, a page turner for economics mavens and maybe an epiphany for those who have not considered where their money comes from." -Andrew Allentuck, Financial Post
"Ms Desan displays exemplary scholarship in detailing money's origins...her study is worth the effort." - The Economist
"[In this book] A constitutional historian dives deep into the political economy of money in Englandfrom royal monopoly to joint creation with private investorsto illuminate how the means of exchange is in fact a form of governance and of social order." - Harvard Magazine
"Making Money will undoubtedly become an exemplary text in its field. It has a lot to offer... In sum, this book is of tremendous value and a notable text in legal history and within those subjects at the peripheries surrounding it. It sets a new path in challenging our ways of studying commercial law and viewing money and currency as a purely economic tool and as a mechanism of exchange." -Victoria Barnes, The Journal of Legal History
"[T]hose interested in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of money . . . Will find this book invaluable. [Desan's] approach . . . Is essentially a new history and analysis of how money is made." - Ms Katie Ball, Worcester College, Oxford, Reviews in History
"Making Money contributes to . . . understanding [the popularity of cash] by providing a detailed and insightful narrative of how cash developed into the 'killer app' of payment technologies." -William Roberds, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Journal of Economic Literature
"Christine Desan's Making Money should be amongst the points of departure for analysis and reflection not beholden to the existing institutional structures and the interests served by such institutions...This insight elevates Desan's book far above the kind of literature that cultivates a generalizing view of money, its current forms, and institutional settings as inevitable expressions of human nature. The conclusions from her contribution to the analysis of money are arguments for changing prevailing monetary regimes. Desan equips us with historical arguments for reinventing money." - Leopold Specht, International Journal of Constitutional Law
"Making Money is the most fascinating book about anything, let alone money, I've read in a while-thought-provoking like David Graeber's Debt, but firmly grounded in the minutiae of English history. In these times when everyone from gold bugs (like Ted Cruz, let's not forget) to Bitcoin enthusiasts is calling for a redefinition of money, it reminds us what a complicated and politically determined thing money always has been." - James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario
"Desan's singular achievement has been to not only synthesize a vast literature but to also produce a richly detailed, compelling, and original account of how the development of market commerce and capitalism was largely dependent upon the transformation of the ways in which people thought about and made their money. Needless to say this brief review in no way does justice to the narrative reconstruction, eye-watering detail, and historiographical engagement which will surely make Desan's text the definitive account for some time to come. " - The Medieval Review
"Christine Desan's Making Money: Coin, Currency, and the Coming of Capitalism expands the limited theoretical interventions of myriad governance-view theorists into positive, empirical claims by telling the story of British money through law from the fall of Rome to the eighteenth-century financial revolution, and in so doing expands on them significantly. What Desan has given us, and earlier authors have not, is a thorough alternative, grounded in legal history, that, helpfully, includes an origin story for the orthodox account of money's origins. Although some may continue to defend the orthodox conjectural history of money - they will be hard-pressed to do so on empirical grounds in light of Desan's account." - Andrew David Edwards, Law and Social Inquiry
"Making Money is an impressive work of scholarship that not only surveys many centuries of history, but also offers fresh insights into a topic so laden with assumptions and parables as to seem barely worth reexamination. The book is part legal analysis, part political and economic history, and part numismatics, and it is more representative of an interpretive essay than an encyclopedia of monetary history." - Bruce G. Carruthers, American Historical Review
"This book is an obvious must for anyone interested in English history generally, and the history of money, banking or finance, or the legal history of these fields in particular. That much goes without saying. For historians of capitalism, it should be a lightning rod, attracting attention with a bold, unorthodox and analytically and historically compelling claim." - Roy Kreitner, Banking and Finance Law Review
A closing sentence of Desan's Making Money encapsulates what I find truly extraordinary about her book: "Arguably capitalism constructed a money [based on] individual exchange for profit, institutionalizing that motive as the heart of productivity"... In my view Desan's greatest contribution in Making Money is a clear explanation of how monetary reform set the stage for modern economic performance." - Carolyn Sissoko, Synthetic Assets
"This fascinating book offers an innovative approach to monetary history, by using the historical development of currency in England from the high middle ages to the nineteenth century to challenge the established theory of money and its role in the economy... This book is an excellent contribution to the existing literature [...and] must also be considered an important contribution to fields such as law, economics, political science, and the history of economic ideas." - Paolo di Martino, The Economic History Review
"Christine Desan's Making Money is not only a fine monetary history of England. The 2014 book is relevant today. It shows cash and governments go together, the gold standard was a misnomer and central banking is political. And we should stop outsourcing money-creation to banks." - Edward Hadas, Breakingviews
About the Author
Christine Desan, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Christine A. Desan is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. She teaches about the international monetary system, the constitutional law of money, constitutional history, political economy, and legal theory. She is the co-founder of Harvard's Program on the Study of Capitalism; with its co-director, Professor Sven Beckert (History), she has taught the Program's anchoring research seminar, the Workshop on the Political Economy of Modern Capitalism, since 2005. Desan's research explores money as a legal and political project, one that configures the market it sets out to measure.
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I found this book a slow read, as I had to stop and reflect quite a lot. The history of money is quite a mess, much based in dogma rather than reason (as the history goes back much before the Age of Enlightenment). In my lifetime, "money" was a thing that simply worked. To my shock, from this book I find that the present form of "money" is very recent, and still not generally understood. (When we generally do not understand an essential aspect of our economy ... this is sobering.)
You are not going to find any rigorous and exact theory as to the nature of "money" in this book, as ... we do not(!) have any such theory. As far as I can tell, this book does an excellent of bringing us to the current level of understanding.
(If you find shocking that we do not exactly understand a critical aspect of our economy ... we agree.)
Its central project is to locate and illuminate the onset of capitalism in a specific monetary shift in early modern England – in the move from the sovereign monopoly over money creation to the sovereign’s effectively ceding the power of money creation to the Bank of England, to be powered by the pulse of private interest. This also meant, of course, that the significant dimension of public gains from seigniorage, written into the creation of official legal tender, would come to be collected by private investors in the banking institutions. This form has been inherited in today’s prevailing institutional structures, with significant political, legal, and distributional effects. The book compellingly argues that this modern form of money would come to be christened globally as the privileged and dominant form. It now travels the world with the ideological cast of a universal, transhistorical phenomenon. This book will be widely read across disciplines as a central, path-breaking contribution to our understanding of modern money – and of the birth of the modern world, more broadly.
Ignore those knuckle-dragging reviewers, and read this book.
To avoid writing one of those long reviews that no one cares to read, I'll just say this, the author methodically details the evolution of the idea of money over many centuries, in England. That's what this book is. And the author does this very well, it's very enjoyable to read.
I'm not kidding. I've rarely seen such a garbled prose. The invention of banknotes is presented as a revolution by which the regalian function of minting commodity money was privatized, thereby legitimizing profit-seeking and self-interested behavior by bankers. As if the Bank of England in 1694 could be called a private entreprise with its various privileges, as if self-interest and profit had not existed before. The author wishes to open the reader's eyes to this invisible, forgotten revolution. Economists are supposed to be unaware of this historical fact, for they don't realize how money was designed (i.e. meddled with) by political authorities. Talk of a straw man!
The book also has postmodern tendencies: lots of narrative, little analytics. For instance, the author gives no prior definitions and discusses at length what money "really is". The book lacks a methodological preamble; there are unbacked claims and attribution of intentions to actors; holism, etc. Again, if you like critical theory, you might enjoy it. Otherwise, you have been warned.