Journal Article

Anonymous currencies or named debts? Comparison of currencies, local credits and units of account between China, Japan and England in the pre-industrial era

Akinobu Kuroda

in Socio-Economic Review

Published on behalf of Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics

Volume 11, issue 1, pages 57-80
Published in print January 2013 | ISSN: 1475-1461
Published online June 2012 | e-ISSN: 1475-147X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ser/mws013
Anonymous currencies or named debts? Comparison of currencies, local credits and units of account between China, Japan and England in the pre-industrial era

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Pre-industrial China and Japan provide contrasting patterns in how transactions were conducted in the rural economy. Chinese peasants would exchange their products anonymously for cash at the nearest market, while transactions in rural Japan tended to be made among people who were well-acquainted through credit rather than currency. The case of early modern England, where ordinary people tended to make deferred payments by means of oral agreements, shows a similarity to the Japanese situation. This comparison suggests, in general terms, that currency and credit could combine to supply the total amount of means of payment needed in a region. However, commercial activities progressed in divergent ways: either through anonymous currency transactions or by means of chained debts among locals. Unlike currency-dominant systems, which tended to create plural units of account, credit-dominant systems made it easier to establish a monetary system based on a standard formula.

Keywords: economic history; financial institutions; regional economies; China; Japan; United Kingdom; N10 monetary economics comparative; N25 financial institutions Asia; N90 regional history comparative

Journal Article.  9339 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Corporate Social Responsibility ; Welfare Economics ; Political Economy ; Economic Sociology

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