Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Monetary Systems of the World. - Money and the Mechanism of Exchange
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The Monetary Systems of the World. - William Stanley Jevons, Money and the Mechanism of Exchange 
Money and the Mechanism of Exchange (New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1876).
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The Monetary Systems of the World.
On reviewing the changes which have recently taken place in the currencies of the principal nations, we notice an unmistakable tendency to the adoption of gold as the measure of value, and the sole principal medium of exchange. This system is now adopted throughout Great Britain and Ireland, the Australian colonies, and New Zealand, the African colonies, and many of the minor possessions of the British empire. It has existed for some time in Portugal, Turkey, Egypt, and in several of the South American States, such as Chili and Brazil. It has been established by recent legislation in the German empire, and also in the Scandinavian kingdoms of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, where a gold currency, and principal legal tender, of twenty-kroner pieces, is now being issued. Even Japan has imitated European nations, and introduced a gold coinage of twenty, ten, five, two, and one-yen pieces, the yen, being only three per mille less in value than the American gold dollar. The new fractional money of Japan is to consist of fifty, twenty, ten, and five-sen pieces in silver, the sen corresponding to a cent, and forming a token money at the fineness of eight parts in ten.
The double standard is still theoreticallv maintained in France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland. Spain, Greece, and Roumania have also in recent years reformed their currencies in imitation of the French system, and must, I suppose, be considered as having a double standard. In the New World, Peru, Ecuador, and New Granada, profess to have the same system.
A few years ago a very considerable part of Europe might have been classed as retaining the ancient system of a single silver standard, with gold coins circulating, if at all, at varying rates, as commercial money. The whole of Germany, north and south, together with Austria, the Scandinavian kingdoms, and Russia, belonged to this group. Owing to the changes already mentioned, only Austria and Russia now clearly represent the silver standard in Europe, and even Austria has begun, since 1870, to coin gold pieces of eight and four florins, the same in weight and fineness as the French gold twenty- and ten-franc pieces. By an imperial decree, dated Vienna, 12th July, 1873, it is ordered that the French, Belgian, Italian, and Swiss gold pieces of twenty, ten, and five francs shall be internationally accepted in the Austro-Hungarian empire in the ratio of eight gold florins to twenty francs of gold coin of the other nations. Nevertheless the silver standard practically prevails over a large part of the world. The vast populations of India and China, Cochin China, the East Indian Islands, portions of Africa and the West Indies, Central America and Mexico, have a currency mainly consisting of silver coins, either rupees as in India, sycee bars as in China, or silver dollars as in many other places.
The gold standard has thus made great progress, and it will probably continue to progress. When the United States return to specie payments, they will certainly adopt gold, and Canada, whose currency can hardly be classed at all at present, must do the same. The Latin nations, having once abandoned the double standard in practice, are not likely to return to it, and Austria must follow. An extensive monetary change is hardly to be expected in Russia, although it is very remarkable that in the province of Finland, a part of the empire highly distinguished for intelligence and good education, Russia has positively admitted the franc system and its decimal subdivisions, the Finnish marc or quarter-rouble having the precise silver weight and value of the franc, lira, and peseta. A great step towards a future international coinage is thus effected. Like changes are impossible among the poor, ignorant, conservative nations of India, China, and the tropics generally. Hence we arrive, as it seems to me, at a broad, deep distinction. The highly civilized and advancing nations of Western Europe and North America, including also the rising states of Australasia, and some of the better second-rate states, such as Egypt, Brazil, and Japan, will all have the gold standard. The silver standard, on the other hand, will probably long be maintained throughout the Russian empire, and most parts of the vast continent of Asia; also in some parts of Africa, and possibly in Mexico. Excluding, however, these minor and doubtful cases, Asia and Russia seem likely to uphold silver against the rest of the world adopting gold. In such a result there seems to be nothing to regret.
Technical Matters Relating to Coinage
In this chapter I propose to consider several minor points relating to the construction and regulation of metallic currency. Although the first principles of money are simple, it is surprising how many little details have to be considered before we can attain the maximum of convenience. We have already discussed the selection of metals to be employed, the modes in which they may be combined into a system, the regulations as to issue, etc. In this and the following chapters we still have to consider the character of the alloy which is best adapted for coining; the most convenient sizes for coins; the method of counting large numbers of coins; the cost at which the currency is maintained; the advantages and disadvantages of international currency of money; the difficulty of selecting a single standard unit; the best series of multiples and submultiples of the unit. At the, most I cannot in this work attempt to give more than a slight sketch of the complicated questions of detail which have to be considered before making any change in the currency.