David Orrell

David Orrell. Writer and Mathematician

The Evolution of Money

Evolution of Money


With Roman Chlupatý

Publishers: Columbia University Press (World English), Citic Press (China)

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Publisher's synopsis

The Evolution of Money is at once a fascinating history of currency as a medium of exchange and store of value in human society, and a systematic effort to advance a new theory of money to protect against another global downturn. Orrell and Chlupatý trace the tension between currency's real and abstract properties and its shift from virtual to physical forms and back.

The authors begin with the tablets of Mesopotamia that recorded debts between traders and with the state. These were later supplanted by the coin money that helped to propel the rise of Greece and Rome. From there, they follow the evolution of gold-backed currencies and the economic development of Victorian England in which monetary economics took shape. The book concludes in the digital era, with the rise of unregulated cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, and the opportunities they represent. Cryptocurrencies suggest money's virtual character is again asserting itself, making standard economic theories obsolete. Through its novel engagement with money's dual existence, this book offers the best approach to controlling the growth of these currencies and making the most of their potential.

The Evolution of Money is a masterpiece. It is rich in content, contains historical breath - from prehistory (Origins) to the future (Utopia) - and analytical depth. Perhaps most remarkably the authors have produced an economics book on money that is elegantly written. It is a work of great erudition that is mercifully free of jargon, sound bites or obfuscations. Why can't all economists write like this? While The Evolution of Money provides great knowledge, it also sounds an urgent alarm-bell. The system is unsustainable: in our relentless pursuit of monetary wealth, we are destroying environmental wealth and social wealth. The final chapter is a plea and provides a map on how to transform the paradigm whereby instead of humanity serving money, money will serve humanity!” Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Emeritus Professor of International Political Economy, IMD, Lausanne

“Even though money is something we all use, every day, talking about it, defining it and explaining it is an extremely arcane thing to do. The tone is important, and The Evolution of Money goes about its task in a readable, breezy style that doesn't go too far into being just glib.” Paul Vigna, coauthor of The Age of Cryptocurrency

“We may think we know what money is, but Orrell and Chlupatý prove that we don't. They take us on a rich and stimulating journey through history and various fields including economics, physics, philosophy, and psychology to reveal the complex nature of money - its 'quantum nature' consisting of both physical and virtual properties. The authors are at the very forefront of the economic revolution that they predict, leading us through a very enjoyable read that decodes what money is and what it is evolving to be.” Ted Cadsby, author of Closing the Mind Gap: Making Smarter Decisions in a Hypercomplex World

“Money, religion and government are the three ubiquitous and eternal human institutions. This important new book gives money a voice in the past, present and future of human history.” Parag Khanna, author of Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization

“A must reading for those who want to understand how money plays an even more important role in an exponentially changing digital society.” Jan Muehlfeit, former Chairman for Europe, Microsoft

“These authors tackle two of the toughest questions in economics: What is money and why does it have value? They present an intriguing definition of money and theory of money's value. They write a long history of money, weaving in references to current issues and dilemmas facing our society.” Michael Kelly, Lafayette College

Articles and interviews

Read extract from Chapter 1

Do We Own Money, or Does Money Own Us? Markets, Numbers, and Prices (Extract), Evonomics, 23 April 2016.

A Quantum Theory of Money and Value, SSRN.

The true value of money, Adbusters 121, September 2015.

Interview with 99 Bitcoins, 27 August 2015.

A Quantum Theory of Money and Value, Bitcoin Magazine, August 2015.