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Carl Menger, David R. Henderson
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Menger also came up with an explanation of how money develops that is still accepted today. If people barter, he pointed out, then they can rarely get what they want in one or two transactions. If they have lamps and want chairs, for example, they will not necessarily be able to trade lamps for chairs but may instead have to make a few intermediate trades. This is a hassle. But people notice that the hassle is much less when they trade what they have for some good that is widely accepted, and then use this good to buy what they want. The good that is widely accepted eventually becomes money. Modern economists describe this function of money as “avoiding the need for the double coincidence of wants.” Indeed, the word “pecuniary” derives from the Latin pecus, meaning “cattle,” which in some societies served as money. Other societies have used cigarettes, cognac, salt, furs, or stones as money. As economies became more complex and wealthier, they began to use precious metals (gold, silver, and so on) as money.