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The Age of Central Banks

The late Curzio Giannini
Curzio Giannini’s history of the evolution of central banks illustrates how the most relevant institutional developments have taken place at times of widespread confidence crises and in response to deflationary pressures.

The eminent and highly-renowned author provides an analytical perspective to study the evolution of central banking as an endogenous response to crisis and to the ever increasing needs of economic growth. The key argument of the analysis is that crucial innovations in the payment technology (from the invention of coinage to the development of electronic money) could not have taken place without an institution – i.e. the central bank - that could preserve confidence in the instruments used as money. According to Curzio Giannini’s ‘neo-institutionalist’ methodological approach, social institutions are, in fact, essential in the coordination of individual decisions as they minimize transaction costs, overcome information asymmetries and deal with incomplete contracts.
In Association with the Bank of Italy
Extent: 328 pp
Hardback Price: £95.00 Web: £85.50
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 978 0 85793 213 6
Availability: In Stock
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Curzio Giannini’s history of the evolution of central banks illustrates how the most relevant institutional developments have taken place at times of widespread confidence crises and in response to deflationary pressures.

The eminent and highly-renowned author provides an analytical perspective to study the evolution of central banking as an endogenous response to crisis and to the ever increasing needs of economic growth. The key argument of the analysis is that crucial innovations in the payment technology (from the invention of coinage to the development of electronic money) could not have taken place without an institution – i.e. the central bank - that could preserve confidence in the instruments used as money. According to Curzio Giannini’s ‘neo-institutionalist’ methodological approach, social institutions are, in fact, essential in the coordination of individual decisions as they minimize transaction costs, overcome information asymmetries and deal with incomplete contracts.

This enlightening and revealing historical theory perspective on central banking will prove a thought-provoking read for academic and institutional economists, economic historians, and economic policymakers involved in the task of crafting a new institutional arrangement for central banking in the globalized economy.
‘Curzio had one of the most fertile and original minds ever to be deployed on questions relating, first, to the interactions between Central Banks, private sector financial intermediaries and the government, and second to the working of the international monetary system in general, and to the role of the IMF specifically within that. His approach has been to apply a “theory of history”, which provides a beautifully written and illuminating book, much easier and nicer to read and more rounded than the limited mathematical models that have so monopolised academia in recent decades.’
– From the foreword by Charles A.E. Goodhart
Contents: Foreword by Charles A.E. Goodhart Foreword to the Italian edition by Ignazio Visco Preface Introduction Part I: Preliminary Issues 1. Money between State and Market: The Concept of Payment Technology 2. Fluctuations of Trust: Pre-industrial Credit Payment Technologies Part II: The Rise and Fall of Convertibility 3. The Convertible Banknote and the ‘English Model’ 4. Bank Money and Instability: From Bagehot’s Principle to Financial Regulation 5. The Fiat Standard: Monetary Nationalism, Central Bank Autonomy and Credibility Part III: Between Present and Future 6. International Money: Building Trust in an Underinstitutionalized Environment 7. The Revolution in the Payment System Epilogue Index