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By John Chown

During this finished old evaluate, the writer writes approximately financial Unions with admirable completeness. Written in a readable and relaxing prose, A historical past of economic Unions combines ancient research with latest context.

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It is also technically very difficult to fix an exchange rate at precisely the level which produces a purchasing power equilibrium. Indeed, given that the exercise will, in many cases, be undertaken at a time of low confidence in a currency, the mere fact of restoring confidence will often mean that the original rate will prove to have been too low. ‘Inflation’ may therefore appear to continue, but this may simply reflect a once for all adjustment to a new reality. For instance, the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were quick after the collapse of the Soviet Union to reassert their independence, and introduced their own currencies.

The best known example is Panama. Unofficial dollarisation is rather more common: Liberia used the dollar officially from 1944 until 1986 when it adopted its own currency. This depreciated sharply, while the US dollar continued to be widely but unofficially used. Cuba used the US dollar exclusively from 1899 to 1914: from then until 1950 the dollar remained a parallel legal tender currency. ) There are earlier precedents, discussed in Chapter 7, while dollars are widely used in Latin America, Israel and the former Soviet Union, with the deutschmark and its successor the euro, being popular in Eastern Europe.

The ancient world My History of Money essentially began with Charlemagne, but included a short chapter with some anecdotes about earlier periods. Having ‘small Latin and less Greek’, I knew little of the monetary arrangments of the ancient world. However, Andrew Meadows, curator of Greek coins at the British Museum, sent me an interesting paper5 which confirmed my hunch that probing even further back in time would turn up some interesting examples. Whereas I had suggested (1994, 107) that the history of money began Some early history 33 with the invention of coinage, Meadows intriguingly suggests that the period before when transactions were settled in silver and occasionally gold by weight was ‘an economic paradise’: ‘life for the comparatively few people with the disposable income and desire to travel with money was simple’.

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