Famous myths of "fiat money"

Dror Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The paper re-evaluates the conventional wisdom regarding the existence of moneys that supposedly circulated without any legal status or intrinsic value. Economists call these objects "fiat money." I re-examine the most famous examples of such objects from primitive societies, such as the stone money of Yap and seashells, which have been cited by some of the most prominent monetary economists. I find that actually none of these cases is an evidence of "fiat money." A general conclusion is that one needs to seriously study the society in question before making a claim that it has used "fiat money."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-967
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Money, Credit and Banking
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Fiat money
  • Primitive money


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