The Value of Money

Benjamin Anderson

Benjamin Anderson, American Austrian, was among a handful of economists, led by Ludwig von Mises in his pioneering work The Theory of Money and Credit in 1912, who set out to integrate monetary theory into a general theory of value.

Anderson devoted a major portion of his great book The Value of Money, published in 1917, to a refutation of the “mechanical” quantity theory of money.

He argued that the causes and effects from which the data of the quantity equation are constructed are disaggregated and complex; whatever the correlation between the aggregate variables of the quantity equation, correlation is not causation; causation cannot be established in the equation because there are no quantitative constants in human action (in particular, velocity is not constant); the quantity theory ignores time; there is no unambiguous way to define the variables in the theory: the money stock, velocity, the quantity of goods, and the price level.

Anderson further holds that whatever true propositions the quantity theory offers can as well be deduced from a correct theory of value and that many true theories of modern economics (such as the laws of demand and supply, the theory of capitalization, and Gresham’s law) are inconsistent with it.

Although some true propositions can be had from the quantity theory, not every conclusion derived from it is true. Anderson expended much effort to demonstrate that many theories constructed upon it are false.

For example, he argued that the independence between the stock of money and the quantity of goods, assumed for the purpose of reaching the conclusion that increases in the stock of money lead to proportional increases in the price level, if carried into macroeconomics has pernicious effects.

Value of Money Anderson
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Benjamin Anderson

Benjamin Anderson was a trained economist and an accomplished journalist.

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New York: MacMillan Company, 1917