Comparing Histories of Money
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This paper will look at the history of money. There are two main views that we will discuss: the orthodox (or Neoclassical) view, and the heterodox view, which includes views of the Post-Keynesian school, the Institutionalists school, and anthropological analysis. The first approach, which emphasizes money as a medium of exchange, begins with the idea of barter. This system exists as a way for ancient peoples to exchange commodities without a universal equating commodity. The second history, or heterodox approach, focuses on money as a unit of account. As a unit of account money must be applicable in value in terms of exchange as well as credit. Furthermore, a unit of account allows us to evaluate different goods and compare wealth. This approach begins with the anthropological relation of gifting. This is an interaction practiced by many peoples. It is an interaction of the social and economic realms. It involves many different topics in society: status, power, and tradition. Many subjects also influence gifting: religion, marriage, death, and defense. This entire interaction exists without any barter or haggling. The third part of this history presents the idea of tallies, which represent debts and credits being traded long before anything resembling coinage is ever used. The tally can be made out of anything. In conclusion, one could say that the heterodox approach to the history of money is not as nice and neat as the more traditional view. It is, however, more practical and rooted in the real world. Money can easily arise out of the use of debt and credit that came with the advent of personal property. Furthermore, the gifting societies had no need for currency. Their use of gifts created a unique creditor/debtor relationship. This second view is rooted in historical evidence.