chapter  2
26 Pages

‘Babylonian madness’: on the historical and sociological origins of money

ByGeoffrey Ingham

Following initiation into the ‘Sociog’ tribe (Leijonhufvud 1973), I lived for many years among the ‘Econ’, working as an underlabourer on what was referred to as the ‘social context’ of economics. During this time, I became interested in London’s capital markets and asked some of the ‘Econ Bigmen’ for guidance (Ingham 1984). I wanted to know, in simple terms, what money was. They seemed amused by my naivety and explained that money, as such, was not really as important as common sense might suggest. But, I was not convinced, and lacking a thorough grounding in microeconomic analysis, found it difficult to accept the counter-intuitive ‘neutral veil’ conception. General equilibrium theory’s inability to provide an essential place for money in its formulations was even more puzzling (Hahn 1982). I dropped the matter for quite a time.