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History of Monetary and Credit Theory

 Author: Charles Rist  Date Published: 1966  File Size: 30.7 MB  Download

From the author:

This is not a work of erudition. I have tried to give the history, not of books or of men, but of ideas. At all times the problems of credit and of money have excited controversies in which there have been apparent, from the first, the same theoretical conflicts. It is this permanence of the problems and of the points of view that it is interesting to bring into prominence; and, with the lapse of time, it is worth while to attempt once again to check the answers given at different periods by the facts relating to the matters at issue.

Credit and money are human institutions. Like all human institutions, they may be regarded in different ways. Experience alone indicates the practical results to which these different conceptions lead. But neither the public nor even statesmen are familiar with more than a small part of that experience. In France, for example, it has no place in the teaching of history. It is not, therefore, inappropriate to bring it back to mind, and at the same time to remember that in such a subject there is neither “orthodoxy” nor “heresy.” The effects which the various methods employed have had on the well-being of nations will in the last resort be judged by the nations themselves. If to be orthodox means to favor those methods which have been hallowed by success, I accept the qualification.

But let us beware of forgetting that in these matters nothing is simple. The truth of this will, I hope, be apparent to those who read this book. It would be a most serious error to believe that it is possible to summarize in a few brief precepts the totality of experience relating to credit, and to apply those precepts to daily life and politics. Man can never dispense with thought, hut thought unsupported by experience is futile. And the experiences examined here are complex in their nature.

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