Early marginalist ideas on money: some neglected exceptions to the quantity theory
Keywords:bimetallic controversy, marginalism, monetary regimes, quantity theory, compensated dollar, symmetallism
The quantity theory of money (QTM) is an important building block of neoclassical economics. This has led scholars to believe that all monetary accounts proposed by marginalist economists are inherently based on the QTM. However, within the bimetallic controversy of the last quarter of the 19th century, there were some neoclassical proposals which departed from the framework of the QTM. In this article, I analyse three of these accounts: Alfred Marshall's symmetallism, Irving Fisher's compensated dollar plan, and Knut Wicksell's inconvertible paper standard. These monetary arrangements—especially the first two of them—have rarely been studied in the literature. Still, their relevance should not be neglected in current times in which the economics profession—both orthodox and heterodox approaches—has moved towards an endogenous money view. The proposals studied also show that the neutrality of money does not necessarily imply the QTM, as it is often suggested.