A Brief History of Money

July 11th, 2012
in econ_news, syndication

Econintersect:  Leave it to those EEs (electrical engineers) to reduce the complexity of money and its history to a single magazine feature and then to coinspublish in the widely read (sarcasm) IEEE Spectrum.   The author of the article is James Suroweicki who writes The New Yorker’s popular business column “The Financial Page.” He is also the author of the best seller The Wisdom of Crowds (Doubleday, 2004).  To reduce this topic to a few thousand words is a daunting task.  After all, Niall Ferguson and David Graeber each took over 350 pages in their books (The Ascent of Money” and “Debt:  The First 5,000 Years).  Nonetheless, the article may be worthwhile for those not up to reading either of  the two outstanding books.  One commenter actually compared the article to a summary of Graeber’s book.

Follow up:

Not everyone was thrilled with the IEEE effort. One commenter felt the article in the engineering journal was totally misguided.   “Disgruntled” wrote:

This article is inappropriately placed in this magazine. While it presents itself as a "History of Money" on the surface, it also soundly presents the opinions of Keynesian economists as if they were fact. As such, it should be presented as an opinion article within this magazine. Even better, it shouldn't be in this magazine at all. I look to Spectrum to present me with news about developing technologies as they relate to electrical engineering, not to print misguiding articles about economic policy.

Editor’s note: Although the discussion was necessarily somewhat superficial by necessity for a complex subject covered in a less than book length,  I still found the essay very interesting and worthwhile reading, even if Maxwell’s equations were nowhere to be found.

John Lounsbury

Source: IEEE Spectrum (June 2012)









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