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date: 23 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents the evolution of Western monetary systems from the bimetallic standards of medieval Europe through the gold standard and Bretton Woods eras to today’s fiat money regimes. The chapter notes that issues of revenue creation enabled by the monopoly over money issue—through debasement and/or inflation—runs through this history, as does the significance of the credibility of the money issuer. An additional theme in the chapter is the role of changing technology of money issue, from the hammered coins of the medieval period, to the milled coins of the early modern period, through paper money issues to cryptocurrencies.

Keywords: debasement, gold standard, bimetallism, fiat money, Bretton Woods

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