Reconstructing Marx’s Theory of Credit and Payment Crises under Simple Circulation

Trigg, Andrew B. (2021). Reconstructing Marx’s Theory of Credit and Payment Crises under Simple Circulation. Review of Political Economy, 33(4) pp. 746–768.



There is general agreement amongst scholars of Marx that his monetary theory is incomplete, especially in his most detailed writings on credit in the third volume of Capital. Moreover, in these unfinished notes Marx takes sides with the banking school approach, notable for its opacity compared to the clear axioms of its currency school counterpart. A reconstruction is proposed based on Marx’s step-by-step method, commencing with a critique of Say’s Law under simple commodity circulation, these foundations formalised here using the model of pure labour developed by Pasinetti (1993). Piecing together the fragments, and filling in some of the gaps in Marx’s writings on money, the analysis builds from commodity money and private debt contracts, to the modelling of pure credit and pure banking systems. Adapting the Pasinetti model of a real economy, its endogenous money requirements provide an alternative to the exogenous money approach of the currency school: a streamlined analytical core to the banking school approach, as interpreted by Marx. In addition, the structure of payment crises — as an extension of Marx’s possibility theory of crises — is examined with money as a means of payment required to settle debts between producers and the banking system.

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