Banks, Financial Markets and the Development of International Currencies

  • Barry Eichengreen
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance book series (PSHF)


This chapter considers the rise and fall of international currencies in history and their relationship with banks and financial markets. It takes a long view, tracing the rise and decline of international currencies from the silver drachma coined in Athens in the fifth century bc to the Roman solidus, the Genoese genoin, the Florentine florin and the Venetian ducat, and culminating with the Dutch guilder, sterling and the dollar. It identifies four prerequisites for the acquisition of international currency status: size, stability, liquidity and power. This perspective is then used to speculate about the evolution of international money and finance in the twenty-first century.


International currency Reserve currency International trade International finance Dollar Sterling Renminbi 


  1. Blakemore, Erin. 2016. Archaeologist Finds Ancient Roman Coins in 12th-Century Japanese Castle., 29 September.Google Scholar
  2. Brownworth, Lars. 2009. Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire that Rescued Western Civilization. New York: Crown Publishers.Google Scholar
  3. De Cecco, Marcello. 1975. Money and Empire: The International Gold Standard, 1890–1914. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  4. Eichengreen, Barry. 2017. The Decline of Dollar Diplomacy? Project Syndicate, 11 October.Google Scholar
  5. Eichengreen, Barry, Arnaud Mehl, and Livia Chitu. 2017. How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present and Future. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Flandreau, Marc, and Clemens Jobst. 2009. The Empirics of International Currencies: Network Externalities, History and Persistence. Economic Journal 119: 643–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lopez, Robert. 1951. The Dollar of the Middle Ages. Journal of Economic History 11: 209–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Neal, Larry. 1991. The Rise of Financial Capitalism: International Capital Markets in the Age of Reason. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Eichengreen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations