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An Anthropology of Money: A Critical Introduction Paperback – 4 April 2017
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About the Author
Tim Di Muzio is Senior Lecturer, School of Humanities and Social Inquiry at the University of Wollongong.
Richard H. Robbins is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Anthropology at SUNY at Plattsburgh.
- Publisher : Routledge; 1st edition (4 April 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 150 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1138646008
- ISBN-13 : 978-1138646001
- Dimensions : 17.78 x 0.86 x 25.4 cm
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Although it is a short book, it is full of information. It's also very readable.
The authors through a relatively detailed description of the history and the different theories of money and a carefull explanation of our current monetary system, they masterfully show how the few rich (the 10%, 1%, call them however you like), exploits us all and make huge profits. The authors finally propose some solutions in order to reform our deeply exploitative and unfair monetary system.
In short: If you are interested in understanding the world we live in, then dont's miss this book !!
On the positive side, it describes the different monetary theories, something you don't find in standard textbooks. It also explains the credit theory of money, which becomes to be widely accepted by central banks, but not by the hardliners of neoclassical economics like Mankiw, whose textbook is still widely used, although largely falsified by the 2008 financial crisis. It is very strange that they credit Richard Werner for reviving the credit theory, while it was Basil Moore who did this 25 years earlier. They also follow Werner in saying Keynes was against the theory, while in fact, he wrote a complete chapter defending it in the Treatise on Money. Oddly, the authors didn't even read any work by Keynes, as is clear from the bibliography.
The third chapter is a very bad one, proving that anthropologists should either study economics more thoroughly, or stay within their own domain. They wonder why the works of C.H.Douglas are "forgotten", but his example defending that in the current system not enough purchasing power is created (page 92-98), is completely flawed, because he doen't see "through " the transactions, that all payments finally go to a person or company that will use it as purchasing power. The same can be said about the claim that levying interest on loans implies that the money stock has to rise. In fact, they confuse liabilities and expenses. I would advise them to read the writings of Godwin about the stock-flow consistent approach!
Finally, their proposals for reform are of mixed quality. The treatment of local or alternative currencies lacks a critical analysis, only the success stories being given, not the failures or the conditions in which these currencies are useful or useless. On the other hand, the description of Bitcoin is more balanced.
As a conclusion, this is not an anthropology of money, but an overview of economic theories of money. It contains many flawed examples and takes ideas from other authors without examining them critically. Still, it is worth reading, because it is well written and structured, but don't expect to find any new insights.