My intention in this book was not historiographic analysis – since it would have been beyond my abilities, and given that in many countries the history of central banks is still unbroken ground awaiting a competent ploughman – but to conduct a theoretical argument based on historical materials. Following the precepts of John Hicks and Fausto Vicarelli cited at the outset, I have asked whether or not – beyond the forms, which as in every aspect of human society vary from era to era and country to country – there is some consistent logic to the evolution of central banks and central banking, clearly discernable and subject to an economic interpretation. Drawing on neo-institutional theory, I answered in the affirmative. The answer turns on the fundamental contractual incompleteness within which the circulation of money takes place, hence on the necessity for trust if a full-fledged capitalistic economy using credit-based payment instruments is to thrive. What has emerged is what Hicks called a ‘theory of history’. Whether or not it is a persuasive one, of course, is for the reader to say. In this afterword, let me seek to recapitulate the argument and enucleate some thinking points on the future of central banking. My point of departure was the observation that the neo-classical attempt to treat money merely as a commodity, useful though it is in analysing monetary policy and portfolio choices, when it comes to the evolution of monetary forms and institutions actually raises more problems than it solves. In reality, money itself is...
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