By John Kenneth Galbraith
The world-renowned economist deals "dourly irreverent analyses of monetary debacle from the tulip craze of the 17th century to the hot plague of junk bonds."—The Atlantic.
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Extra resources for A Short History of Financial Euphoria
In other words we have to find not the historical but the logical origin of money. Suppose then that society is civilised, and that money does not exist. Goods are brought to market and exchanged. But even though there is no medium of exchange, it does not follow that they must be bartered directly for one another. If a man sells a ton of coals to another, this will create a dedi from the buyer to the seller. But the buyer will have been himself a seller to some one else, and the seller will have been himself also a buyer.
Its value arises solely from the banker's obligation, of which it is, as it were, the title-deed. ' If the banker fails, the note ceases to be worth its face value; unless specially secured, it will only entitle the holder to share in the banker's assets, along with the other creditors. Paper money, on the other hand, derives its value from being legal -^ tender. The debtor has the right to pay it, and the creditor is bound to accept it. Unless (as occasionally happens) the law is allowed to become inoperative, the paper money cannot fail to circulate at par.
The demand for fixed capital is made up of people's savings in just the same way as the demand for consumable commodities is made up of their expenditure on their present needs. In this process the need for temporary borrowing comes in at two points. The contractor, who engages to construct the new fixed capital, may borrow to meet the expenses in anticipation of the payments he is to receive from the promoter. And the promoter himself may have to borrow in anticipation of the savings he hopes to collect from the investor.
A Short History of Financial Euphoria by John Kenneth Galbraith