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A visit from Nicolas

Posted By Kurt Schuler On December 24, 2013 @ 8:24 pm In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Not Saint Nicholas--Nicolas Copernicus. Laissez Faire Books has issued a new translation of Copernicus's Essay on Money [1] 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 deprecation 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 [2].)

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1 Comment To "A visit from Nicolas"

#1 Comment By Paul Marks On December 25, 2013 @ 10:49 am

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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URL to article: http://www.freebanking.org/2013/12/24/a-visit-from-nicolas/

URLs in this post:

[1] Essay on Money: http://lfb.org/product-author/nicolas-copernicus/

[2] Ralph Benko: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphbenko/2013/12/23/keynes-and-copernicus-the-debasement-of-money-overthrows-the-social-order-and-governments/

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