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Copernicus and the Quantity Theory of Money


  • William VanLear


This paper examines Nicholas Copernicus’ monetary thinking to ascertain whether he is an early expositor of the quantity theory of money. The paper reviews the historical setting of the 1500s, considers the history of economic thought that pertains to the quantity theory of money, and considers prior translations and interpretations of Copernicus’ manuscript "On the Minting of Money" with our own translation. The paper finds that Copernicus’ monetary thinking is noteworthy for associating monetary policy instability with various economic effects, but he is not a quantity theorist or an advocate of policy positions associated with quantity theorists.

Suggested Citation

  • William VanLear, 2015. "Copernicus and the Quantity Theory of Money," HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT AND POLICY, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2015(2), pages 5-20.
  • Handle: RePEc:fan:spespe:v:html10.3280/spe2015-002001

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bernholz, Peter & Kugler, Peter, 2007. "The Price Revolution in the 16th Century: Empirical Results from a Structural Vectorautoregression Model," Working papers 2007/12, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    2. Munro, John H., 2008. "Money, prices, wages, and ‘profit inflation’ in Spain, the Southern Netherlands, and England during the Price Revolution era, ca. 1520 - ca. 1650," MPRA Paper 10849, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jul 2008.
    3. Robinson, Joan, 1970. "Quantity Theories Old and New," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 2(4), pages 504-512, November.
    4. Oliver Volckart, 1997. "Early beginnings of the quantity theory of money and their context in Polish and Prussian monetary policies, c. 1520–1550," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(3), pages 430-449, August.
    5. L. Randall Wray, 1998. "Understanding Modern Money," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 1668.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B11 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Preclassical (Ancient, Medieval, Mercantilist, Physiocratic)
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations


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