The unmourned death of the double coincidence

Yet more on Graeber’s book, this time from John Quiggin.

The unmourned death of the double coincidence:

Graeber shows, convincingly enough for me, that the story conventionally told by economists, in which money emerges as a replacement for barter systems, is nonsense. In fact, as he notes this point has been made by anthropologists many times and ignored just as often. Thanks to the marvels of auto-googling, I’ve been aware for some time that my namesake, Alison Hingston Quiggin gave the definitive demonstration long ago in her ‘Survey of Primitive Money’. Graeber sharpens the point by arguing that the real source of money is as a way of specifying debts.


(Via Crooked Timber)

The world economy is not a tribute system

Having just posted about DeLong and Rossman on Graeber’s book, here is another essay on the topic, from Crooked Timber. Choice excerpt follows; I recommend reading the whole thing.

The world economy is not a tribute system:

In short – if there is evidence to support Graeber’s rather sweeping claims about the nature of the global economic system, he doesn’t provide it to the reader. Perhaps this evidence is buried in his sources somewhere. Perhaps not. But when one self-consciously makes grand claims that everyone else is wrong, one should have good evidence, and be prepared to produce it up front. Graeber, unless he’s keeping it very close to his chest indeed, has no evidence at all. This doesn’t seem to me to live up to the (admittedly high) standard that Graeber sets for himself.

(Via Crooked Timber)

How the poor debtors still sell their daughters, How in the drought men still grow fat « Code and Culture

Brad DeLong points to this lengthy review of David Graeber’s “Debt: The First 5000 Years”. I am in the process of reading Graeber’s book in bits and pieces in between my, rather pressing currently, stretches of work and the review is coming at the right time for me. Of particular interest is the example about Apple Inc. that points out that Graeber’s claims about facts cannot always be trusted. DeLong has a long blog post on this. The original essay by Gabriel Rossman is here:

How the poor debtors still sell their daughters, How in the drought men still grow fat « Code and Culture:


Italy and Greece – it’s not fiscal

Mark Crosby makes a very good point and makes it well.

Italy and Greece – it’s not fiscal:

In Europe there are two responses to these developments. Globalisation can either be rejected or be embraced. Policies such as making it hard to shut down businesses support anti-globalisation, since globalisation is going to require firms and people to be adaptable and nimble. It is unfortunate that this might mean that the historical jewelry businesses in Italy have a future far less grand than the past. However, it is simply a fact that there is really no way to avoid this. Italians (and Greeks and others) must become more nimble and adaptable.  Embracing globalisation means accepting that the future will be very different to the present and the past. It requires workers to be well educated, flexible, and talented. This is the real challenge for Greece and Italy.

(Via Core Economics)