The Nature of Money 1st Edition
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"This excellent book reveals a sounder grasp of credit-money than many contemporary heterodox economists and almost all orthodox monetarist economists."
From the Inside Flap
Defining money as a socially and politically constructed ‘promise to pay’, Ingham applies this approach to a range of important historical and analytical questions. The origins of money, the ‘cashless’ monetary systems of the ancient Near Eastern empires, the pre-capitalist coinage of Greece and Rome and the emergence of capitalist credit-money are all given new interpretations. In contrast to the conventional focus on production and property relations, ir is argued that capitalism’s distinctiveness is to be found in the social structure Ä comprising complex linkages between firms, banks and states Ä by which private debts are routinely ‘monetized’. Monetary ‘disorders’ Ä inflation, deflation, the collaspe of currencies Ä are the result of disruptions of, or the inability to sustain, these creditÄdebt relations. Finally, this concept of money is used to clarify confusion in the recent debates on the emergence of new forms and spaces of money Ä such as global electronic money, local exchange trading schemes and the euro.
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inchoate understanding of it. This is first book I come across that satisfies
my needs. Is an excellent book on money and I highly recommend it to the
economist and social scientist. Defining money as a socially and politically promise to
pay, the author applies this approach to an array of historical and economic
analytical questions. This book opened my eyes to the multifarious functions
of money, a good number of which were very dim to me.
If you are interested in money from an investing point of view then
this book is probably not for you.
Top international reviews
The second section of the book may be more problematic for some. Effectively Ingham endorses a view of Money akin to 'State Theory'. In 'History and Analysis' he gives his account of how Money is both born from and impacts upon social structures. He doesn't go quite as deeply as some anthropological texts do, in regard to the formation of indebted relations, but nevertheless provides a consistent and persuasive account of Money and power. His examination of the role of central banks is particularly strong. However, if you find that Inghman's emphasis on the role of the state grates against your libertarian or anarchist sensibilities, you'll find much to make you huff and puff in the second section of this book. What you won't be able to do though is make any claim as to a lack of rigor or consistency in Ingham's arguments. Indeed, his work challenges you to strengthen your own arguments.
For what its worth I do disagree with thrust of Ingham's argument. For me, there are fatal weaknesses in his non-differentiation of Money and currency, and in his (short) discussion of theories of value. I also think that the advent of Bitcoin creates questions which Ingham would find difficult to answer. But, nevertheless this is one of the most important books written on Money in the noughties. It may not have the popular appeal of David Greaber's tome 'Debt', but at just over 200 pages it is both profound and succinct. Anyone claiming to understand economics should read it.