Money: The Unauthorised Biography

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The only tangible apparatus employed in most monetary payments today is a plastic card and a keypad. I cannot be the only one who can recall my parents and grandparents thinking that the only way to purchase goods at the shop or petrol at the forecourt was to hand over a fistful of cash in coins or banknotes. One can approach the big question from so many different directions. What is money?

Debts have often been used as money; is money a debt? Because we use credit accounts and a clearing system, does this make the credit and clearing system what we call money, rather than the change which we carry around in our pocket or purse which is the physical manifestation, or the balance in our bank account which we can access at the ATM or online every day?

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Or was it something in the abstract which was used by medieval rulers so they had a ready source of credit when they needed to devalue currencies by decree, more often than not to finance war against some foreign ruler or power which had been unwise enough to provoke them? There is no clear-cut answer. The nearest that history came to finding one, it appears, was when the seventeenth-century philosopher and physician John Locke decided that the pound was identical with the amount of silver it contained, and that economic laws were basically on a level with those of physics. This led to the science of classical economics, as developed by Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, and a philosophy that the economic system would always return to equilibrium.

Sadly the result was a laissez-faire approach, a belief that monetary society could be left to regulate itself — a principle which was largely responsible for exacerbating the tragedy of the failure of the potato crop in Ireland during the s and the subsequent famine. At this point in time, we stand seven years or so into the Great Depression.

Money and banking, Martin concludes, are what brought us here, and once correctly restructured will bring us out again. This is a very interesting, thought-provoking and thoroughly researched book. Customer service is our top priority!. About this Item: Vintage. Published by Vintage About this Item: Vintage, Minor shelf wear Good condition is defined as: a copy that has been read but remains in clean condition.

All of the pages are intact and the cover is intact and the spine may show signs of wear. The book may have minor markings which are not specifically mentioned. Most items will be dispatched the same or the next working day. Seller Inventory mon Published by Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book.

What is money, and how does it work? The conventional answer is that people once used sugar in the West Indies, tobacco in Virginia, and dried cod in Newfoundland, and that today's financial universe evolved from barter. Unfortunately, there is a problem with this story. It's wrong.

And not just wrong, but dangerous. Money: the Unauthorised Biography unfolds a panoramic secret history and explains the truth about money: what it is, where it comes from, and how it works. Drawing on stories from throughout human history and around the globe, Money will radically rearrange your understanding of the world and shows how money can once again become the most powerful force for freedom we have ever known.

Seller Inventory AAZ Published by Bodley Head About this Item: Bodley Head, Dust Jacket Condition: Good. Reliable customer service and no-hassle return policy. New Arrivals. Dust Jacket: Good.


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It rearranges your understanding of the world and shows how money can once again become the powerful force for freedom we have ever known. Num Pages: pages, Illustrations black and white. Dimension: x x Weight in Grams: Books ship from the US and Ireland. Are gone through one by one.

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Then follows various rogues, scammers and incorrigible bankers in a really entertaining and persuasive book. In terms of similar and good books I have read. And a book on the social aspects of something i hadnt thought of as social is What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly Dec 17, Douglas rated it it was amazing. Economists don't even know what money is. This book will open your mind to a rich world of money theory, philosophy and reality.

In places it is dense like a textbook, but well worth reading if you want to truly understand the amazing world we have created with this virtual medium of human exchange. Pretty good. In my review I don't think I have misrepresented the author, but I may have done. The concepts are sometimes a little slippery to grasp, but I think I understood most of it. I enjoyed all the literary references, like the story about the post-revolution Russian conman who succeeds in forcing another conman out of his money, only to find he can't actually spend it, because everything is reserved for Soviet functionaries.

This is another book that says neo-classical economics is rubbi Pretty good. This is another book that says neo-classical economics is rubbish.

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He argues that money is a social technology, the value of which cannot be fixed, against a pound of silver for instance. He says John Locke was wrong for saying it was, and that this view of money causes problems to this day he also says J. Mill was wrong in his classical view of economics, which by coincidence I will be reading about next.

Money is a way of transferring credit between people or institutions. People need to trust it, or people won't accept it as payment or be able to spend it themselves.

Money: The Unauthorised Biography

The author referred to an island in which wealth was represented by a stones which were too heavy to move, but everyone knew each other, and could work out what they owed each other and whether their credit was still good. Likewise Medieval merchants could buy and sell goods between one state and another using bills of sale, which they could transfer between each other and settle their accounts at an annual fair.

On a wider scale, government money tends to be more trusted. The author says a government should be willing to intervene by changing monetary value for the public good, or to let inflation to run for a while to reduce debt. There is a lot of history in the book. I was amused by Cicero and Tacitus complaining about the intrigues and evasions of the money lenders.

I suppose I was most interested in Walter Bagehot's analysis of the banking crisis of He said in a banking crisis the national bank should be prepared to honour the loans made by other banks in order to stop panic crippling the monetary system. The problem with the crisis was that the central banks had to bale out not only banks with a liquidity problem but also those that were insolvent because of all the hidden debt in the newfangled financial products the finance sector had dreamed up in the previous couple of decades.

The author suggested we go back to a system similar to what we had before, where banks that deal with customers and businesses are legally separated from other institutions that deal with speculative financial products. I think that would resolve the moral hazard problem. I am at a loss about how to rate this book since the utility it offers is highly skewed on one side while it tapers off pretty quickly towards the end.

It pits the conventional Smithian view of money as a mere commodity medium of exchange against the alternative view of money as a social technology. The conventional view holds that money gradually came about to e I am at a loss about how to rate this book since the utility it offers is highly skewed on one side while it tapers off pretty quickly towards the end. The conventional view holds that money gradually came about to ease the burden off of barter economy. But as the book points out, there's a resounding lack of evidence to substantiate this claim.

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Rather, money, as a social phenomenon, can be viewed to comprise of three components: an abstract unit of value in which money is denominated, a system of accounting and the tranferablity of credit. In short, money is the unit of measurement that reckons a universal economic value, much in the same way a meter is a unit of linear extension which measures heights and depths. The first 10 chapters delineates this monetary theory in a cogent, albeit somewhat abstruse, manner.

The first challenge is to set a monetary standard. And herein lies the beef between the traditionalists and the radicals. And the bulk of the blame has been heaped upon John Locke and his stubborn insistence to peg the pound to gold so that the sovereign has zero control over the monetary standard. He did so out of a misplaced sense of political liberalism, applied unfashionably to financial economics. And the book goes on great length to show that how this conventional way of perceiving money as a mere commodity rather than a social technology had a pervasive influence over the entire monetary society.

All these were very convincing. However, I balked when I saw that he was trying to transfer the blame of the financial crisis on this conventional monetary theory. Although he did emphasize the importance of regulating the banking sector, his hollow insistence that a misplaced monetary theory caused the housing bubble is, and I say this seriously, utter bullshit.

And this is where the book started to lose me. If he finished off the book at the turn of the 18th century when Locke won his crusade over Lowndes, I would have given it a 5 star rating. But sadly, the writer continued, only to reveal his true identity. And this only backstopped my belief: Center right economists are the most dangerous kind!! This is a deep take on what the brilliant Felix Martin identifies as the real economic problem in the world: a near-universal misunderstanding of what in the hell money really is. The biographical aspects of money are the strength of this story, but along the way there is a fair amount of jargon, inside baseball, and what hit me as just showing off.

Some of the philosophical and theoretical threads were just too arcane for me One problem was t This is a deep take on what the brilliant Felix Martin identifies as the real economic problem in the world: a near-universal misunderstanding of what in the hell money really is. One problem was that the whole book came across as a definitive repudiation of what he described as a universal misunderstanding of the definition of money Except that the definition he subscribes to is one that I had no idea is such a minority view. He does a nice job of tying it to our recent unpleasantries and showing that banks really ought go stay in the business of banking rather than performing financial gymnastics while the public props them up no matter the risks.

His argument reminds us that sovereign support for money also comes with sovereign power to manage -- yes, even regulate -- the markets represented by that money. He cites "ignored geniuses" such as Polish economic theorist Witold Kula, previously discredited Scottish.

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