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A visit from Nicolas

by Kurt Schuler December 24th, 2013 8:24 pm

Not Saint Nicholas--Nicolas Copernicus. Laissez Faire Books has issued a new translation of Copernicus's Essay on Money by Gerald Malsbary. Like Isaac Newton later, Copernicus was both a natural scientist and an expert on coinage consulted by his government.  He worked on iterations of this brief work on and off over 20 years, which gives an idea of the importance he attached to it. In it one sees the most pressing monetary problems of his day, some of which have echoes in ours. Copernicus analyzes problems with a confusing multiplicity of units of account, of the depreciation of coinage, and of the problems of transition from old to new units of account. He offers solutions for each. Along the way, he discusses a version of Gresham's Law and offers glimpses of some other ideas that are surprisingly modern.

Not really knowing Latin, I cannot comment on the quality of the translation, but the translator has thoughtfully included the original text as an appendix.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

(Hat tip to Ralph Benko.)

One Response to “A visit from Nicolas”

  1. avatar Paul Marks says:

    Gresham's Law can only operate if exchange rates are rigged ("fixed"). Ff people are free to discount debased coins (i.e. ones with reduced precious metal content) and are free to value commodities (such as gold and silver) freely, rather than being TOLD what the exchange of gold and silver should be, then Gresham's "Law" that "bad money drives out good" goes away.

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