On the origin of money, or Menger’s one-sided reading of Genovesi’s Lezioni
By examining Menger’s interpretation of Genovesi’s arguments on the origin of money, this note shows that Genovesi is a subtle theorist managing to blend the Cartalist with the Mengerian approaches to the origins of money. Far from resting exclusively on the Mengerian unattended consequences of the uncoordinated behaviours of rational agents trying to minimise their transaction costs, Genovesi shows how governments can and do create fiat money with a positive value in connexion with their ability to raise taxes. For Genvesi both trust (à la Menger) and authority (à la Cartalist) are necessary to explain the positive value of money.
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