By John Chown
During this accomplished ancient review, the writer writes approximately financial Unions with admirable completeness. Written in a readable and relaxing prose, A background of financial Unions combines historic research with ultra-modern context.
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Additional info for A History of Monetary Unions
If smaller notes had been permitted, as they were in Scotland, it might have been possible to adopt a formal ‘silver exchange’ standard, leaving banknotes for everyday larger transactions and with gold coins trading at market value as they had often done in the past. Why was bimetallism a problem? Bimetallism arguably became an issue because of the need for ‘small change’. Before the commercial revolution of the fourteenth century England managed with the silver penny as the standard unit supplemented only by half-pennies and ‘fourthings’ and no larger coins at all.
Lower payment costs have the indirect benefit of stimulating cross-border trade, while the elimination of currency risk (and the complications of accounting in more than one currency) will stimulate cross-border investment. Even if transaction costs could be substantially eliminated, the unified common currency has one important advantage over fixed rates in that price differentials between countries are transparent, enhancing competition. A paper by Frankel and Rose2 (August 2000) comes up with some surprisingly optimistic conclusions on the beneficial effect of currency unions on the long-run level and rate of growth of economies, arguing that currency union stimulates trade which in turn stimulates output.
In the event the Royal Mint had been creating them and putting them into circulation at a profit represented by the discount while the banks, notably the Bank of England, had been accepting them at fiat value and found themselves with large stocks which, if melted down, would have created a loss. There were disputes (see Redish 2000, 150–3) about whether the (privately owned) Bank should be allowed to sell these back to the ‘government-owned’ mint at face value, or at least to be permitted at a later stage to buy equivalent amounts of coins from the Mint at bullion value plus the cost of minting.
A History of Monetary Unions by John Chown
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