Is barter a myth?

posted by
March 16, 2016
Foundation for Economic Education
by George Selgin  
Posted in Commentary

"So far as some people are concerned, when it comes to bashing economists, any old stick will do. That, at least, seems to be true of those anthropologists and fellow-travelers who imagine that, in demonstrating that certain forms of credit must be older than either monetary exchange or barter, they’ve got some of the leading lights of our profession by the short hairs. The stick in this case consists of anthropological evidence that’s supposed to contradict the theory that monetary exchange is an outgrowth of barter, with credit coming afterwards. That view is a staple of economics textbooks. Were it nothing more than that, the attacks would hardly matter, since finding nonsense in textbooks is easier than falling off a log. But these critics have mostly directed their ire at a more heavyweight target: Adam Smith." (03/16/16)  

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