How Did Rome Put Money into Circulation with no Central Bank?


QUESTION: How were ancient coins placed into circulation?


ANSWER: That is actually a very interesting question. As the legend goes, the Gauls (French) attempted to invade the city of Rome quietly, but had frightened the sacred flock of geese that made a lot of noise. This alerted the Romans to the surprise attack giving us the word “monere” meaning in Latin to warn. The Temple of Juno then became popularly known as the Temple of Juno Moneta. Since this is where the coins were minted, we now arrive at the word “money” that springs from the origin of this legend and place that was an ancient mint.

Our term such as capital flow is also derived from the Latin word “currere” meaning “to run” or “to flow” and this is where the money flowed from giving us the word “currency” meaning the flow of money. This is why Juno Moneta is pictured on Roman coins as holding the balance scales in one hand and a cornucopia in the other symbolizing endless bounty or wealth. This is the birth of the term money and currency.

Now, since Rome had no national debt and no central bank, we immediately wonder how on earth did this function? The government-owned the mines and thus they coined money to meet their expenses.  Unlike our modern governments, they did not have a huge welfare state. They did subsidize food. But the coinage was used to pay the troops and government expenses and thus this is how the money was put into circulation. They would increase the output in times of war and decreased it in times of peace for the most part.

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