From Chengdu to Stockholm: A Comparative Study of the Emergence of Paper Money in East and West

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Niv Horesh


It is widely recognised that monetary paper instruments appeared in China earlier than in the West, paper itself having been invented there during the Han era. However, there have been to date few direct scholarly attempts to place the early-modern Western and pre-modern Chinese formative experiences with paper money in detailed comparison by way of attaining a better understanding of the evolution of money as a whole. This article aims to make a tentative first step toward bridging this scholarly gap. It will survey in particular the extent to which the inception of Chinese paper money in 11th-century Chengdu differed from the circumstances in which European paper money emerged. Whilst some similarity between 17th-century Stockholm and 11th-century Chengdu might arguably be traced back insofar as the emergence of paper money is concerned, British banknote issuance subsequently took on new important functions. These, in turn, ushered in our modern "national-debt" economy.

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Author Biography

Niv Horesh, University of Western Sydney

Niv HORESH荷尼夫 is the guest editor of this special issue. In 2011, he was appointed Associate Professor in Chinese Studies at the School of Communication Arts, University of Western Sydney. Amongst his research interests are Shanghai's economy, past and present; world monetary history and the 'Great Divergence' across pre-modern and early-modern Eurasia. Along with Dr Emilian Kavalski, he is the also editing a forthcoming essay volume entitled Asian Thought on China's Changing International Relations.