Money: Sound and Unsound

Joseph T. Salerno

Ludwig von Mises said that there can never be too much of a good theory. Salerno proves it in this sweeping and nearly comprehensive book on applied Austrian monetary theory. He uses the Mises/Rothbard theory of money to reinterpret historical episodes, reevaluate the history of thought, closely examine the Federal Reserve policy, seek out cause and effect in business cycles, provide a new understanding of war and social unrest, and clarify the relationship between the state and the central bank.

But it is not just about the past. He presents a great model for the future too with essays on how to tell real from fake gold standards, how to calculate the money supply and follow what the Fed is up to, and how to reform the international monetary system to keep money from the destructive hands of the state.

This book might be considered an intermediate text on the topic. If you have read Menger, Rothbard, Mises, or Hayek on the topic of money and you want to know what is next, this is your answer. Joseph Salerno is the master of the subject, and he demonstrates absolute virtuosity in these pages.

Salerno’s yardstick concerns the soundness of money. He is speaking of a subject too rarely raised: the quality of the money itself. Money originated as a commodity out of market exchange. The further the government and central bank drive money from its original soundness, toward a paper money and finally toward digits that government can manufacture out of nothing, the less sound the money becomes, and the more instability, inflation, false signalling, and economic chaos that results.

As he makes clear, money is either absolutely sound (meaning, part of the market order) or it is headed on that slide toward destruction. In the final commentary section, Salerno directly addresses modern monetary madness and speculates on the future.

The doyen of Austrian monetary economics, Prof. Joseph Salerno, has produced a great contribution to scholarship -- one that merits careful study. Even though I don’t endorse all of Prof. Salerno’s analyses or embrace all of his conclusions, every chapter in his anthology is lucid, interesting, reflective and thought-provoking. - Steve H. Hanke, The Johns Hopkins University

A must-read in these times of monetary and financial crisis. Joseph Salerno is a grand master of monetary economics, unparalleled in combining state-of-the-art theory with profound knowledge of the history of economic thought, and a balanced judgment of policy issues. - Jorg Guido Hulsmann, University of Paris, Angers

It is the questions asked as much as the answers given that make this such an excellent collection. The articles combine deep historical knowledge, a penetrating grasp of the relevant theory and a strikingly clear writing style to shed light on a host of issues that need to be better understood if we are to get out of, and thereafter stay out of, the economic problems traditional policies continuously create. - Steven Kates, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Money, Sound and Unsound by Joseph Salerno is modern Austrian monetary economics at its best. It appears at a time when monetary policy is about to commit again all the errors of the past that are so clearly exposed in this book. - Antony Mueller, Instituto Ludwig von Mises Brasil

This tome covers nearly thirty years of important contributions by Professor Salerno defining and defending sound money from its critics and pseudo friends. The volume be a must in the library of anyone, whether scholar, pundit, policy wonk, or educated laymen, who truly wants to understand our current crisis and participate in a meaningful way in a program for a return to sound money. - John P. Cochran, Metropolitan State College of Denver

This is an astoundingly thorough, incisive and even inspired book. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Mises’s The Theory of Money and Credit and Hulsmann’s the Ethics of Money Production. I have known and admired Joe Salerno for many years. May this be the first of many more of his books. If we are to attain monetary sanity, this publication will be one of only a very few that will lead the way. - Walter Block, Loyola University, New Orleans

Now in the midst of financial upheavals the book by Dr Salerno – Money, Sound and Unsound – is an eye opener. The book debunks various fallacies spread by popular media and various experts. The book also provides the reader with the necessary framework of thinking to navigate in the chaotic economic environment. This book is a must not only for the students of economics but also a must for every investor who wants to protect his wealth. - Frank Shostak, Mann Financial

Professor Salerno has written a magnificent book, fascinating and thorough in its scholarship of monetary theory and the history of monetary affairs. It is an indispensable reference for students of monetary economics, a truly “must read”. - Thorsten Polleit, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

Money: Sound and Unsound is an indispensable collection of 26 essays on that subject, written over the years by a brilliant American economist of the Austrian school, Joseph Salerno. In defending gold as the alternative to the government’s fiat money, Salerno effectively takes on all comers, including Milton Friedman. Try his two scintillating essays on Alan Greenspan, or his learned discussion of war and inflation, or his straightforward essay “Gold Standards: True and False.” ~ Gene Epstein, Barron’s

Money, Sound and Unsound by Joseph T. Salerno
Meet the Author
Joseph Salerno
Joseph T. Salerno

Joseph Salerno is academic vice president of the Mises Institute, professor emeritus of economics at Pace University, and editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.


View Joseph T. Salerno bio and works

Mises Institute, 2010