In this Book

summary

The Big Problem of Small Change offers the first credible and analytically sound explanation of how a problem that dogged monetary authorities for hundreds of years was finally solved. Two leading economists, Thomas Sargent and François Velde, examine the evolution of Western European economies through the lens of one of the classic problems of monetary history--the recurring scarcity and depreciation of small change. Through penetrating and clearly worded analysis, they tell the story of how monetary technologies, doctrines, and practices evolved from 1300 to 1850; of how the "standard formula" was devised to address an age-old dilemma without causing inflation.

One big problem had long plagued commodity money (that is, money literally worth its weight in gold): governments were hard-pressed to provide a steady supply of small change because of its high costs of production. The ensuing shortages hampered trade and, paradoxically, resulted in inflation and depreciation of small change. After centuries of technological progress that limited counterfeiting, in the nineteenth century governments replaced the small change in use until then with fiat money (money not literally equal to the value claimed for it)--ensuring a secure flow of small change. But this was not all. By solving this problem, suggest Sargent and Velde, modern European states laid the intellectual and practical basis for the diverse forms of money that make the world go round today.

This keenly argued, richly imaginative, and attractively illustrated study presents a comprehensive history and theory of small change. The authors skillfully convey the intuition that underlies their rigorous analysis. All those intrigued by monetary history will recognize this book for the standard that it is.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-xi
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  1. List of Illustrations
  2. pp. xiii-xiv
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  1. List of Tables
  2. p. xv
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xvii-xix
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  1. Acknowledgments
  2. p. xxi
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  1. Part I: A Problem and Its Cure
  2. pp. 1-2
  1. 1. Introduction
  2. pp. 3-14
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  1. 2. A Theory
  2. pp. 15-36
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  1. 3. Our Philosophy of History
  2. pp. 37-42
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  1. Part II: Ideas and Technologies
  2. pp. 43-44
  1. 4. Technology
  2. pp. 45-68
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  1. 5. Medieval Ideas about Coins and Money
  2. pp. 69-99
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  1. 6. Monetary Theory in the Renaissance
  2. pp. 100-120
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  1. Part III: Endemic Shortages and “Natural Experiments”
  2. pp. 121-122
  1. 7. Clues
  2. pp. 123-130
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  1. 8. Medieval Coin Shortages
  2. pp. 131-138
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  1. 9. Medieval Florence
  2. pp. 139-159
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  1. 10. Medieval Venice
  2. pp. 160-185
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  1. 11. The Price Revolution in France
  2. pp. 186-215
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  1. 12. Token and Siege Monies
  2. pp. 216-224
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  1. Part IV: Cures and Side-effects
  2. pp. 225-226
  1. 13. The Age of Copper
  2. pp. 227-229
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  1. 14. Inflation in Spain
  2. pp. 230-253
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  1. 15. Copycat Inflations in Seventeenth-Century Europe
  2. pp. 254-260
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  1. 16. England Stumbles toward the Solution
  2. pp. 261-290
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  1. 17. Britain, the Gold Standard, and the Standard Formula
  2. pp. 291-305
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  1. 18. The Triumph of the Standard Formula
  2. pp. 306-319
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  1. 19. Ideas, Policies, and Outcomes
  2. pp. 320-332
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  1. Part V: A Formal Theory
  2. pp. 333-334
  1. 20. A Theory of Full-Bodied Small Change
  2. pp. 335-336
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  1. 21. The Model
  2. pp. 337-349
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  1. 22. Shortages: Causes and Symptoms
  2. pp. 350-365
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  1. 23. Arrangements to Eliminate Coin Shortages
  2. pp. 366-372
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  1. 24. Our Model and Our History
  2. pp. 373-374
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  1. Glossary
  2. pp. 375-376
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  1. References
  2. pp. 377-392
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  1. Legal Citations Index
  2. pp. 393-394
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  1. Author Index
  2. pp. 395-398
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  1. Subject Index
  2. pp. 399-406
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Additional Information

ISBN
9781400851621
Related ISBN
9780691116358
MARC Record
OCLC
878078567
Pages
392
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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