Free Banking in Britain – Theory, Experience and Debate 1800-1845


Monetary Policy

A condensed version of the 19th-century classic

Housing and Planning

This classic text has recently been bought back into print
First published in the 1984, this classic title was republished in 1996 but has been out-of-print for a number of years. Recently reprinted, the book is available to buy and as a free PDF download (13 MB).

Free banking, generically speaking, denotes a monetary system without a central bank, under which the issuing of currency is left to private banks. This book explores how this could work in practice by examining how this has worked historically, specifically in the United Kingdom in the early 19th century. After building a theory of free banking, its central chapters explore the history of Scotland’s experience of free banking and the contemporary policy debate over the question of whether Parliament should allow free banking in England.

The final chapters bring the debate forward and examine how free banking could work in modern times. The result is a significantly revised and update edition of a book about privately issued currency.

‘Larry White’s ‘Free Banking in Britain’ is one of those books that alter forever one’s view of the history of monetary policy, the role of central banks, and indeed the need to regulate banking at all. Is banking really different from ordinary goods and services? I do not know whether White’s argument will stand the test of time but I do know that we will go back to this book again and again whenever we consider the case for free banking.’ Professor Mark Blaug

1996, 1984, Published by the IEA, ISBN 0 255 36375-3, 180pp, PB

Further reading:

Private Money: The Path to Monetary Stability by Kevin Dowd

Good Money by George Selgin

The Denationalization of Money by F A Hayek

Central Banking in a Free Society by Tim Congdon

Print-on-Demand. This title is made available through print-on-demand and is a reprint of the 2nd edition, printed by the IEA in 1996. Print-on-demand allows the IEA to make available out-of-print titles by printing a copy of each book individually rather than by using the traditional method of reprinting in bulk. The contents of the book are indistinguishable from the original, with the only noticeable difference being in the cover design.

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