Money as a Legal Institution
Christine A. Desan
Harvard Law School
September 5, 2013
In: David Fox and Wolfgang Ernst, 'Money in the Western Legal Tradition', 2014, Forthcoming
Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 13-34
This essay summarizes the case for considering money as a legal institution. The Western liberal tradition, represented here by John Locke’s iconic account of money, describes money as an item that emerged from barter before the state existed. Considered as an historical practice, money is instead a method of representing and moving resources within a group. It is a way of entailing or fixing material value in a standard that gains currency because of its unique character. As the second half of the essay details, the relationships that make money work are matters of governance carried out in law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: money, history of money, money creation, definitions of money, John Locke, law and money, Anglo-Saxon
JEL Classification: A12, B10, B15, B19, B22, B25, B31, E4, E42, E50, H1, H4, K00, K3, N1, N10, N40, Z1
Date posted: September 7, 2013 ; Last revised: November 1, 2013
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