|Carl Menger, 1892, The Origins of Money|
- Individuals decide what the most marketable good is for use as a medium of exchange.
- The theory of money necessarily presupposes a theory of the saleableness of goods.
- It is an error in economics, as prevalent as it is patent, that all commodities, at a definite point of time and in a given market, may be assumed to stand to each other in a definite relation of exchange, in other words, may be mutually exchanged in definite quantities at will. The truth is, that even in the best organized markets, while we may be able to purchase when and what we like at a definite price, viz.: the purchasing price, we can only dispose of it again when and as we like at a loss, viz.: at the selling price.
- A high rate of saleableness in a commodity consists in the fact that it may at every moment be easily and surely disposed of at a price corresponding to, or at least not discrepant from, the general economic situation—at an economic, or approximately economic, price.
- Men have been led, with increasing knowledge of their individual interests, each by his own economic interests, without convention, without legal compulsion, nay, even without any regard to the common interest, to exchange goods destined for exchange (their “wares”) for other goods equally destined for exchange, but more saleable.
- It lies in the economic interest of each trafficking individual to exchange less saleable for more saleable commodities.
- When the relatively most saleable commodities have become “money,” the great event has in the first place the effect of substantially increasing their originally high saleableness.
- The less saleable are the goods brought by an economic subject to market, the more unfavourably, for his own purposes, will his economic position compare with the position of those who bring money to market.
- The practice of every-day life, as well as jurisprudence, which closely adheres for the most part to the notions prevalent in every-day life, distinguish two categories in the wherewithal of traffic— goods which have become money and goods which have not. And the ground of this distinction, we find, lies essentially in that difference in the saleableness of commodities set forth above.
- Money has not been generated by law. In its origin it is a social, and not a state institution. sanction by the authority of the state is a notion alien to it. On the other hand, however, by state recognition and state regulation, this social institution of money has been perfected and adjusted to the manifold and varying needs of an evolving commerce, just as customary rights have been perfected and adjusted by statute law.