Arnold Kling  

The Origins of Money

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In contrast to my militaristic account, we have Nick Szabo:


Local but extremely valuable trade was, this essay argues, made possible among many cultures by the advent of collectibles, by the time of the Upper Paleolithic. Collectibles substituted for otherwise necessary but non-existent trusting long term relationships. If there had existed a high degree of sustained interaction and trust between tribes, or individuals of different tribes, so that they gave each other unsecured credit, this would have stimulated time-lagged barter trade. However, such a high degree of trust then is highly implausible

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COMMENTS (4 to date)
ryan yin writes:

I think the two links go to the same site

eric mcfadden writes:

atlas shrugged had an opinion on the origin of money

Pat writes:

Ryan is right. It leads to the same site.

MattYoung writes:

Starting with a causalaty chain, the goal is to minimize scarcity of goods for the group, then the mere convenience of cash as a technology is not sufficient.

The argument must lead to the movement and storage of inventory over time such that most people get most goods most of the time.

Perhaps cash was such an advance over barter, that the coagulation of the village market and warehouse was a surprising side effect.

More likely a version of Arnold's, IMHO. The warehousing of goods in the village probably preceded cash, and was achieved more along the lines of militarism. Cash was originally a badge of authority taken from the village leader(s)' decorative royal jewels. The lending out of part of the crown jewels assigned authority to the holder, who could forage and rely on the inventory support of the leading clan.

Even George Selgin's Good Money would not have been a spontaneous egalitarian construct, but would have an enforcer network, leading to increasing wealth and incomplete markets.

You get the spanning tree model of commerce, the transactions leading to larger holdings of goods in the village to maintain longer outlook for the village holders of the king's ransom. In this hierarchical model, the aggregate inventory of goods is calculated with the Hayek minimum of effort.

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