Mario Draghi: The euro – from the past to the future
Address by Mr Mario Draghi, Governor of the Bank of Italy and Chairman of the Financial
Stability Board, at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (Università Cattolica del Sacro
Cuore), Milan, 21 March 2011.
The euro: an idea that goes back a long way
"The idea of a single currency, in place of a congeries of local or national monies, did not gain much ground in modern Europe until the second half of the nineteenth century. Why was that? It would be natural to think that a universal currency is a timeless aspiration: to extend the traditional functions and therefore the advantages of money in the widest geographical sphere.
A possible explanation is the redistributive use that money had been put to over the centuries: in classical antiquity and then in the Middle Ages, adjusting the currency – increasing or reducing the gold or silver content of metal coins – was often a way for the prince to appropriate resources; striking coins was an attribute of sovereignty. It took a long time to reach the point, in the nineteenth century, when the value of a monetary unit was defined solely by the quantity of precious metal it contained; paper money was declared convertible into metal; money had been “depoliticized”..."
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