Moscow, 2016, Nov 14-15

What is money? What is currency?
Friday 16 September 2016

What is money? What is currency?

What is money? The question was a subject of debates, analyses, conferences, since the issue of the very first coin. Is it a substitute to barter? Barter can be useful to exchange goods, animals, lands, but not to exchange services. Has money actually come from barter and has credit come only afterwards?

For most of the history, money was before all, pieces of precious metal, characterized by a fixed amount of metal, a fixed alloy and stamped by an authority. But at the same moment, amounts of local currencies, forgeries, imitations were produced. At the same time other nations were using salt, kauris, glass pearls, iron broches to buy and exchange. In Asia, the value of currencies was not linked to metal but only to numbers and circulated as strings of coins. And what about Egypt that ignored currency up to the arrival of Alexander the Great? And Babylon?

Our traditional vision of currency is still in the long tradition of metallic coins. But what is the currency that we are using when we are paying with a plastic credit card? What is the real value of a banknote? Are the shares and bonds another kind of currency?

Since eighteenth century the tendency is to dematerialize the currency, checks, notes, credit-carts, and now bit-coins. But on the other hand, the number of coins per capita in Europe is increasing, about 10-15 coins in Pompeii, about 350 euro coins per European.

We can also think of currency not only in terms of personal use, but also in terms of states’ needs. Since the discovery of Americas, the possession of large reserves of gold and silver is a kind of military case. To have a “better” coinage is an aspect of imperialism. From Alexander looting the treasure of Darius to Hitler via Napoleon, coins are the blood of economies. In this case, should we consider the speculations against any national currency, as another way to make war?

In this period of political and economic unions and dis-unions, when international and national currencies are in competition on the global market and within the countries (complementary monies), time is to think and to ask ourselves “what is money?”

We propose to have a workshop to exchange ideas and interpretations on 14-15 November at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, Leningradsky prospect, 51/1, Moscow, Russia.

The attendance will be free, just register in sending a mail to or

Papers will be published in a special issue of the University journal, Review of Business and Economic Studies. Some facilities could be given to participants.

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