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Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law

Research Handbook on Political Economy and Law

Research Handbooks on Globalisation and the Law series

Edited by Ugo Mattei and John D. Haskell

Events such as the global financial crisis have helped reveal that the drivers and contours of governance on a national and international level remain a mystery in many respects. Set in this context, this timely Research Handbook is the first to explicitly address the constitutive relationship between law and political economy. With scholarly contributions from diverse disciplinary and geographic backgrounds, this authoritative book covers, in three parts, topics surrounding money and markets, the relations of organization, and commodities, land and resources.

Chapter 2: Toward a political economy of money

Roy Kreitner

Subjects: development studies, development studies, law and development, economics and finance, political economy, law - academic, law and development, public international law, politics and public policy, political economy


Modernity has always been accompanied by conflict over the nature of money. For at least four centuries, philosophers, political economists, and sociologists have divided over questions of the origins, the functions, and the meaning of money. Reflection on the conflict typically presents the protagonists as split between two camps, often labeled metallists and chartalists. Noting the existence of these two positions is a significant advance over assuming a position without acknowledging rival theories. However, such an acknowledgment is inadequate as a guide to understanding the stakes of the conflict, in large measure because those stakes extend beyond the realm of economics. A narrow view of the conflict over money limits our ability to see how money impacts on political economy broadly conceived. Thus, what is necessary here is a story of money complete with an account of the story’s own relationship to political economy. Before laying out that story in its complexity, it seems worthwhile to introduce two goals such an analysis will pursue. The first goal is to align the relationship between the development of money and capitalism. Too thin an account of money often leaves us with a simplified binary question: whether or not a given social system has money. Since so many systems for so many centuries have had money, it appears either that they also had capitalism, or that there is no relation between having money and having capitalism.

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