«PictureTours on interesting coins»

Money and Exchange III: Market

 back

 

Historically, it must first emerge that people buy something, that is, that they can and must buy and sell each other things. In all early communal groups, the supply system initially proceeds over people's personal connections and hierarchical dependencies, that is, totally without the mediation of anything like money. And this kind of supply system initially endures, even if money emerges, if certain things – most obviously but not only, coins – are used as a means of exchange. The occasions and above all the added necessity to use things in this way, for purchasing, were quite restricted for a very long time. Once such occasions become institutionalized, they are local markets: an event with a few stalls for a strictly limited time with a strictly limited range of merchandise. And at these local markets a regulation could require that payment must be made with a very specific means of exchange, but usually other things could also serve as payment.

In the 16th century it comes to a transition from local markets to a common market

Only towards the end of the so-called long 16th century in Western Europe, through supraregional trade fairs, an ever denser trading network, and above all through the strictly money-mediated movement of goods between cities and their surrounding regions, does it come to a transition from such local markets to a common market. This institution that lends its name to the market economy, didn't grow with natural necessity from the use of a means of exchange, that is, from using money. Quite the reverse: it is the institution of the market that gives rise to the use of money as universal medium of exchange, the transformation of an until-then quite limited use of money into the money that from then on rules the world.

The market no longer mediates tangible goods against tangible payment only

The market, unlike the market stands of the past, no longer mediates tangible goods against tangible payment only; rather it mediates as far as it reaches basically everything in the form of money and goods. Today: worldwide. What someone has to sell here competes with everything that anyone anywhere else wants to sell. The possibility of making a profit here depends on corresponding powers that exist somewhere else. The poverty or prosperity of peoples depends on how the dealings they carry out under the aegis of their states turn out compared with the dealings undertaken in every other conceivable state. The value of its national money can depend on how robustly the issuing nation can assert appropriate conditions for itself in all other parts of the world. And so on.

Mediating of all this and mediation of this kind is the market.