Friday, April 18, 2014

Ingham's The Nature of Money

Geoffrey Ingham, The Nature of Money,  I think this is a remarkable book.  I'm a little out of my depth here (and actually, I haven't finished it) but it's the most useful thing I ever read on the topic.  Put narrowly, it is just what its title says it is: an attempt to probe beneath the surface of a subject so manifestly cloaked in opacity.  It's written by a non-economist, which is good.  It's written by a self-admitted sociologist* which is better.  And perhaps even more remarkable: non-economist academics who stray into the field often stumble into a bog of abstract fulmination which suggests that after all, they really don't know much of what they are talking about.  Ingham by contrast sounds like a sociologist who has been locked up with economists for a decade or so and lived to tell about it (from what I read somewhere, I think this last guess is more or less correct, but I can't put my finger on the source just now).

You don't read many pages of Ingham without thinking that this is the kind of book that David Graeber thought he was writing, or perhaps should have written.  It isn't really; Graeber is must much more scattershot richer in detail, far more intent upon testifying to his disaffection with the current system.    I don't remember Graeber citing Ingham, but god bless Kindle search, it takes just a moment to determine that--there he is, some 15-plus citations text and footnotes together.  It's none too few: I can hardly accuse Graeber of ripping off Ingham but on the whole I'd say the most arresting and/or engaging parts of Graber's book are the parts he gets from Ingham.  I see that Ingham reviews Graeber here; I  haven't read beyond the ungated first page. But I see he wants to  "focus particularly on what I take to be the underlying threads--his analysis of the nature of money, its relationship to debt, and the moral basis of economic life."  Exactly. Although actually I haven't seen that much in Ingham yet about "the moral basis of economic life;" but as I say, I'm not finished.

Continuing what I guess you could call this chartalist bent, I've lain my hands on a copy of Keynes' Treatise on Money.  Eeuw, do I really need to read all of it?
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*Did I just compliment a sociologist on his writing style?  Yes, I believe I did.

And BTW:  Pardon the even-more-than-usual array of typos.  I should not blog after 9 pm.  Or wear white after Labor Day.

One More: One hundred and seven dollars? You gotta be kidding.




1 comment:

Larry, The Barefoot Bum said...

"I've lain my hands on a copy of Keynes' Treatise on Money. Eeuw, do I really need to read [a]ll of it?"

Yes, yes you do. Sorry. So do I, and I'm looking forward to the task with as much eagerness and joyful anticipation as are you.

If you want slightly less turgid writing than the Venerable Keynes, I recommend Understanding Modern Money, by L. Randall Wray. It's not as rich, nowhere near as deep, but it gets the most important points across.