Eastern and Western monetary systems: From difference to similarity

Georges Depeyrot


During the Ancient period and up to the modern era, the western and eastern monetary systems were completely different. The western one was based on the coin and the relationship between the coin and the unit of account. Currency was a privilege of the King and counterfeiting was punishable by a death sentence (boiling and hanging). Trade suffered from monetary instability and the monetary fragmentation that was a consequence of political fragmentation. The eastern system was mainly based on the important role of private issues of currency and the fiduciarity of the coins or of the banknotes. To this monetary stock were added drafts that increased the possibilities of trade. In both systems, the unit of account played an important role in giving homogeneity to a mainly heterogeneous monetary stock: they were characterized by diversity of currency and unity of the unit of account. The two systems reacted differently to the main economic crises, especially increases in the monetary stock and inflation.

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