Economists endlessly debate the nature of legal tender monetary systems—coins and bills issued by a government or other authority—yet the origins of these currencies have received little attention. Dror Goldberg tells the story of modern money in North America through the Massachusetts colony during the 17th century. As the young settlement transitioned to self-governance and its economy grew, the need to formalize a smooth exchange emerged. Printing local money followed.
Easy Money illustrates how colonists invented contemporary currency by shifting its foundation from intrinsically valuable goods—such as silver—to the taxation of the state. Goldberg traces how this structure grew into a worldwide system in which, monetarily, we are all Massachusetts. Weaving economics, law, and American history, Easy Money is a new touchstone in the story of monetary systems.
Join us to hear from Goldberg, in conversation with Richard Sylla.
About the Speakers
Dror Goldberg is a senior faculty member in the Department of Management and Economics at the Open University of Israel. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester and a law degree from Tel Aviv University. Goldberg studies the theory, history, and law of money, especially of legal tender currency. His work was published in the Journal of Economic History, the Journal of Monetary Economics, Economic Theory, and the Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, among others. He is the author of Easy Money: American Puritans and the Invention of Modern Currency, published by the University of Chicago Press in March. Goldberg worked at Texas A&M University and spent a sabbatical in the Department of Economics at NYU as a guest of professor Richard Sylla.
Richard Sylla is a professor emeritus of economics and the former Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets at the NYU Stern School of Business. He is the author or co-author of several books, including Alexander Hamilton on Finance, Credit, and Debt, Alexander Hamilton: The Illustrated Biography, and Genealogy of American Finance. He was chairman of the Museum of American Finance from 2010 to 2020.
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