Although I've devoted many essays here to exploding myths about historical private currencies, there's one I've yet to directly challenge. That's the belief that such currencies only thrive in the absence of official alternatives. Otherwise, the argument goes, people would drop private currencies like so many hot…

Twice now,  on this forum back in 2013, and on Twitter more recently (see here and here), I've taken Yale economics professor Gary Gorton's publications to task for misrepresenting the historical record of private currency systems. In particular, I've criticized him for claiming, on the basis of evidence…

A couple months ago, in arguing that “The Fed should give everyone a bank account,” journalist Matt Yglesias cited what he took to be an instructive precedent: “Once upon a time, governments didn’t issue paper currency, and instead banknotes were printed privately by banks. But over time,…