NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

One World Money, Then and Now

Michael Bordo, Harold James

NBER Working Paper No. 12189
Issued in May 2006
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ME

The case for monetary simplification and unification has been made since the middle of the nineteenth century. It rests on four principal arguments ;reduced transaction costs; establishing credibility; preventing bad policy in other states; political integration via money. In this paper we argue that the case for monetary integration is becoming increasingly less persuasive. In making our case we posit a different concept of money to the one that underlay the nineteenth century discussions which we term "Newtonian" since it was based on the assumption of a single reference external to the state reflected in the definition of value in terms of precious metals. In the twentieth century, views of money have shifted to a more " Einsteinian" or relativistic conception. Measures of value that move relative to each other are helpful in terms of dealing with large shifts in relative prices that affect different countries very differently. In the current age of globalization, "Einsteinian" money is capable of accommodating shifts that were politically destructive in the " Newtonian" world.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12189

Published: Bordo, Michael and Harold James. "One World Money, Then and Now." International Economics and Economic Policy 3, 3-4 (December 2006): 395-407. citation courtesy of

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