Early marginalist ideas on money

Some neglected exceptions to the quantity theory


  • Germán D. Feldman National Univeristy of Quilmes, Argentina




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.

Author Biography

Germán D. Feldman, National Univeristy of Quilmes, Argentina

Germán D. Feldman received his doctoral degree in economics from the Goethe University Frankfurt. He is professor of macroeconomics at the National University of Quilmes and works as advisor to the Under-Secretary of Economic Policy at the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Argentina. His research focuses on monetary theory and policy, classical economics, and history of economic thought.




How to Cite

Feldman, G. D. (2013). Early marginalist ideas on money: Some neglected exceptions to the quantity theory. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 6(1), 28–48. https://doi.org/10.23941/ejpe.v6i1.118