[OPE-L:1148] Re: Marx, Ricardo and money

Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Tue, 20 Feb 1996 07:42:42 -0800

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Steve writes:

> Paul's initial reaction is that, maybe the section I cited
> from Marx was limited to the exchange-value of money in its role as
> credit, but when we consider money as means of payment, its exchange-
> value is set in the same fashion as all other commodities--which ties
> Marx to the notion of commodity money (gold).

There is something in that, but it's not Paul who is "tying Marx to
commodity money" -- that's something he does for himself (and to my mind
it constitutes a problem in his theory of money). "Paper money is a
symbol of gold, a symbol of money. ... Only in so far as paper money
represents gold, which like all other commodities has value, is it a
symbol of value" (vol. I, p. 225). Fiat money, therefore, is not a
"symbol of value" in Marx's scheme, which raises the question of how it
is able to function as money at all. Either that, or one insists that
even fiat money be conceived as "representing gold" in some way; but that
seems an arbitrary claim: How does it "represent gold" in any more direct
or intimate a way than it represents wheat, or shoes?

Allin Cottrell