Money and Exchange

The acts of exchange that people practice, and upon which their societies are originally based, are only turned into barter in the form of buying and selling through money. Thus, in the end, the market dominates every exchange. Besides the market, methods of exchange persist in the form of offerings.


Because money functions as exchange medium today, it is generally thought to have originated in barter transactions – mistakenly. In communities that have no money in the modern sense, the presentation of gifts is crucially important. The gifts are not swaps; rather, along with other customs, they confirm and reaffirm a basic bond people have with one another.


Buying changes ownership of money and goods from one person to another. If the trade is completed, every obligation between the participants is fulfilled and, so, the interaction ends. Buying replaces the all-encompassing social bond with one single obligation: to pay something to someone. Thus buying is both obligatory liquidation and the liquidation of the obligation.


Long before “the market” became a byword, there were only local markets, strictly limited in terms of time and in their range of goods. A coherent market with a common pricing structure only emerges towards the end of the 16th century in Europe. This development gave the market economy its name and coincided with the transformation of money into the universal medium of exchange.

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