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Historicising the money of account: a critique of the nominalist ontology of money

Sgambati, S. ORCID: 0000-0001-7324-0724 (2020). Historicising the money of account: a critique of the nominalist ontology of money. Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, doi: 10.1080/01603477.2020.1788396


The article puts forward a case against the nominalist ontology of money, that is, the heterodox notion that moneyness – the quality of being money – is conferred by the money of account. From the nominalist perspective, money is essentially a balance-sheet phenomenon: a credit-debit bookkeeping entity whose origins can be traced back to ancient Near Eastern practices of accounting. This ontological position, which is often erroneously traced back to Keynes’ Treatise, mystifies and obscures the actual history of the money of account as a regime of monetary governance and a mode of speculation that only made sense in the European late medieval context of bimetallism. The article thus provides a critique of monetary nominalism based on Keynes’ reflection on the value of money in the Treatise and the General Theory. In turn, it proceeds to historicise the phenomenon of the money of account, building on the seminal contributions of Marc Bloch and Luigi Einaudi.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, to be available online:
Publisher Keywords: Money of Account; Monetary Ontology; Monetary History; Nominalism; Keynes; Bloch; Einaudi
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
Text - Accepted Version
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