An Economics Reading List

Classics in Money and Banking

Bagehot, Lombard Street

Cantillon, Richard, Essays on the Nature of Commerce in General

Jevons, William Stanley, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange,

    Jevons’s formative 1875 classic work came into print at the height of interest in gold, silver, and international monetary standards. Refreshingly written, widely quoted, and authoritatively researched, the book begins with the origins of money and works its way through to international banking and credit.

    Of particular interest are the clear discussions of Gresham’s Law (Ch. VIII), competitively supplied money (Ch. VII), and fractional-reserve- and Free-banking (Ch. XVII-XVIII and XXIV). Also: If you think the only reason to not use coins worth their weight in precious metal is their weight, I recommend Chapter X for an excellent reminder of additional drawbacks.

    Jevons is best known for his work on marginal utility, which he describes with customary succinctness in the book. His interest in the way the forces of the market evolve toward an equilibrium without (and often in opposition to) government influence runs throughout the book. Difficulty Level 2: Graduate School

Jevons, William Stanley, Investigations in Currency Finance

Laughlin, J. Laurence, The History of Bimetallism in the United States. 1898; first published 1885.

    Prior to the paper fiat monies now used world-wide, gold and silver coin served as currency. Why were gold and silver used historically? Why were the debates about their usage so internecine during the late 19th century? Why did gold come to dominate for several hundred years? Why were both metals ultimately displaced by paper during the 20th century? Are further developments to come? Even if you think you understand this topic generally, the answers may surprise you.

    To throw light on these questions, no work could serve better than Laughlin’s sweeping, insightful, and well-documented History of Bimetallism in the United States. Difficulty Level 2: Graduate School

    Sections of particular interest include:

      Chapters 3-4 Discovery of the New World through the inception of U.S. monetary policy: Gold, silver, and price levels; and Alexander Hamilton’s policies for the United States.

      Chapter 8 Gold and silver production, and the silver crash of 1876.

      Chapter 12 Gold versus silver as currencies world-wide: Summary.

    Other related Econlib works:

Pigou, Arthur, The Veil of Money

Say, Jean Baptiste, A Treatise on Political Economy

Schumpeter, Joseph, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy

Schumpeter, Joseph, Essays

Simons, Henry, Economic Policy for a Free Society

Thornton, Henry, An enquiry into the nature and effects of the paper credit of Great Britain

Wicksell, Knut, Interest and Prices

Wicksell, Knut, Selected Essays in Economics

Wicksell, Knut, Value, Capital and Rent