28 Jul '12, 2pm

A Brief History of Money

It’s really in the seventh century B.C.E., when the small kingdom of Lydia introduced the world’s first standardized metal coins , that you start to see money being used in a recognizable way. Located in what is now Turkey, Lydia sat on the cusp between the Mediterranean and the Near East, and commerce with foreign travelers was common. And that, it turns out, is just the kind of situation in which money is quite useful. 
 To understand why, imagine doing a trade in the absence of money—that is, through barter. (Let’s leave aside the fact that no society has ever relied solely or even largely on barter; it’s still an instructive concept.) The chief problem with barter is what economist William Stanley Jevons called the “double coincidence of wants.” Say you have a bunch of bananas and would like a pair of shoes; it’s not enough to find someone who has some shoes or someone...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/at-work/innovation/a-brief-histo...

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