- 歴史と経済 (ISSN:13479660)
- vol.60, no.1, pp.16-29, 2017-10-30 (Released:2019-10-30)
Expansionary monetary policies (policies for increasing the money supply) are often adopted when the economy is in a slump. However, a fundamental issue in monetary policy is whether a central bank can control the money supply by manipulating the monetary base. As is well known, this question has effectively divided the field of economics into two schools. The exogenous and endogenous money theories have offered conflicting views on money supply since the mid‒18th century, and even today’s application of econometric methods to the question has ended in fruitless debate. This perhaps means that we should look beyond econometric approaches to settle the dispute. This paper argues that an examination of banknotes from a historical perspective might bring about the resolution of the longstanding debate.From its foundation in 1694, the Bank of England issued pieces of paper (running cash notes) as receipts in exchange for deposits, and these pieces of paper gradually began to circulate. This is how the Bank of England’s notes came into being. Originally they acted simply as notes that the Bank of England promised to repay to the depositors or bearers; they were entered as debts in the book of outstanding banknotes, known as the “Clearer.” The Bank of England also issued its notes in other banking activities such as discount drafts and loans. The notes with their varying written amounts ultimately evolved into notes with printed denominations.As suggested above, banknotes came into existence only when a credit relationship was established, and they expired with the expiry of that credit relationship. Since a banknote went from the bank of issue into the real economy only when a credit transaction was conducted, the bank of issue could not control quantity of banknotes in circulation. As previous studies have shown, goldsmith bankers had by the end of the 17th century constructed a payment and settlement system that used transfers of deposit monies. Banknotes became a means for adding or withdrawing money from one’s balance.In summary, it was not banknotes that enabled the settlement of payments by allowing the transfer of deposits, but rather that the settlement of payments through the transfer of deposits gave rise to banknotes. Banknotes were a product of the credit system. In other words, a bank of issue can not increase or reduce deposits or banknotes arbitrarily. Should we therefore recognize that both deposits and banknotes are born endogenously?