Chown J.F. A History of Money: From AD 800

Chown J.F. A History of Money: From AD 800
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Rouledge, 1994. - 320 pages.

This book presents a detailed and surprising history of money from Charlemagne's reform in approximately AD800 to the end of the Silver Wars in 1896. It also summarizes twentieth century developments and places them in their historical context.

Since 1914 the world has been bedevilled by inflation, depression, devaluation, unstable exchange rates and other ‘diseases of money’. In 1923–4 hyperinflation wiped out the currencies of Germany, Hungary, Poland and Russia. Greece went the same way in 1944, and Hungary (again) in 1946. The depression of the 1930s had, some would argue, led directly to the Second World War. In the 1970s, nearly all countries suffered from double digit inflation or worse.
The proposals for European Monetary Union produced some unexpected turns: this is a saga which will run and run. Proud and prosperous Germany ran into economic problems from which they thought they were exempt. Who would have thought that Germany’s inflation rate would exceed that of France? This happened because of a serious technical error in setting the terms
of the monetary union between the two Germanies (in 1990, following the collapse of East Germany) which had its perhaps inevitable repercussions in 1992 with the expensive partial collapse of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). The president of the Bundesbank, asked to comment on the rate chosen, said ‘it was a political decision’, and he was not being polite. The
ERM was again in serious difficulty in the summer of 1993. It would be unfair, unrealistic and narrow to blame all our ills on, and give all the credit for our prosperous times to, the failure or success of monetary management. No one can really understand the history of this century, or hope to prescribe for the problems of the next, without some understanding of how money and its management can affect, and affect profoundly, broader, economic, political and social affairs. The successful statesman, businessman, investor or trader sees this crisis, that stock market boom, the other free fall or rise in the dollar or the oil price in perspective. He knows what has happened before and can better judge what can happen this time than those who, ignorant of the past, are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

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