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The Big Problem of Small Change
Thomas J. Sargent & François R. Velde

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"A remarkable book. . . . The Big Problem of Small Change is an impressive piece of scholarship that should be of interest to most economists, not just to economic historians. It offers a coherent model of money that helps explain a recurring problem that can arise with a commodity of money system and that provides the basis for understanding a solution to this problem."--Arthur J. Rolnick and Warren E. Weber, Journal of Political Economy

"[H]istorically-minded readers will have traversed an insightful and entertaining exploration of European monetary history and of the writings of early monetary thinkers . . . with as much enjoyment in the reading as the authors seem to have taken in the research and writing."--Robert W. Dimand, History of Economic Ideas


"This marvelous book is a fascinating and thoroughly original combination of economic theory, economic history, and the history of economic thought. In it, Sargent and Velde set out a simple, modern framework for thinking about monetary systems in which several denominations of currency circulate at once. They then use this framework to illuminate the workings of a huge variety of monetary arrangements in use from the Middle Ages to the present, and to trace the evolution of our understanding of the principles of monetary management. This is applied economics at its best."--Robert E. Lucas, Jr., University of Chicago, 1995 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences

"Thomas Sargent and François Velde have written a quiet masterpiece. The Big Problem of Small Change solves a nearly thousand-year old puzzle in monetary economics, it is a beautiful economic history, and a brilliant piece of intellectual history, showing how important ideas are in economic affairs."--John H. Cochrane, University of Chicago

"It is rare to be able to say of a book that it is not only of considerable importance from a scholarly point of view, but that it is also well written and aesthetically pleasing. Yet that is precisely the sort of book this is. The Big Problem of Small Change is also unusually clear and has none of the apparent obfuscation that other scholars accuse economists of practicing. Most scholars get confused when dealing with mint ratios, Gresham's Law, seigniorage rates, and so on. Amazingly, however, this is a book that will please even the most numismatically challenged among them."--Joel Mokyr, Northwestern University

"This collaboration between a prominent economic theorist and a very learned historian of European monetary thought and experience yields a rather unusual book, one that may herald the way the world is going. To an economist and financial historian, this is pretty interesting stuff."--Richard Sylla, New York University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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