The Nature and Origin of Money
In the early stages of trade, when economizing individuals are only slowly awakening to knowledge of the economic gains that can be derived from exploitation of existing exchange opportunities, their attention is, in keeping with the simplicity of all cultural beginnings, directed only to the most obvious of these opportunities.
In considering the goods he will acquire in trade, each man takes account only of their use value to himself. Hence the exchange transactions that are actually performed are restricted naturally to situations in which economizing individuals have goods in their possession that have a smaller use value to them than goods in the possession of other economizing individuals who value the same goods in reverse fashion. A has a sword that has a smaller use value to him than B’s plough, while to B the same plough has a smaller use value than A’s sword—at the beginning of human trade, all exchange transactions actually performed are restricted to cases of this sort.
It is not difficult to see that the number of exchanges actually performed must be very narrowly limited under these conditions. How rarely does it happen that a good in the possession of one person has a smaller use value to him than another good owned by another person who values these goods in precisely the opposite way at the same time! And even when this relationship is present, how much rarer still must situations be in which the two persons actually meet each other! A has a fishing net that he would like to exchange for a quantity of hemp. For him to be in a position actually to perform this exchange, it is not only necessary that there be another economizing individual, B, who is willing to give a quantity of hemp corresponding to the wishes of A for the fishing net, but also that the two economizing individuals, with these specific wishes, meet each other. Suppose that Farmer C has a horse that he would like to exchange for a number of agricultural implements and clothes. How unlikely it is that he will find another person who needs his horse and is, at the same time, both willing and in a position to give him all the implements and clothes he desires to have in exchange!
This difficulty would have been insurmountable, and would have seriously impeded progress in the division of labor, and above all in the production of goods for future sale, if there had not b
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