Entrepreneurship, knowledge and employment

A theoretical and practical analysis on Saint-Simonian in money and banking in 19th century

Adrien Lutz, University of Saint-Etienne - GATE L-SE
Nicolas Barbaroux, GATE Lyon-St Etienne, UMR CNRS 5824

The sunny days before the 'great financial crisis' demonstrated to what extent economic cycle can be speed up by an elastic and innovative banking system. The Saint-Simonian theory does not except to that rule. Even before the Pereire’s brothers’ contributions, ones of the famous Saint-Simonian thinkers, many business-men and engineers published in the first Saint-Simonian journals “Le Producteur”, “Le Globe” and “L’Organisateur” (1825–1831). Those articles mostly dealt on economics’ topics and especially on the due place of banking sector for the industrialisation process. While comparing the Saint-Simonians on money and banking with other monetary theories at that time, we will thus analyse to what extent the Saint-Simonian adopt an instrumentalist view of banking We will put a specific focus set on the idea that banks are a useful element that ensures fluidity within a broader social approach. The article will be structured as follows: section 2 provides an overview on Saint-Simonian theories, especially self-centred on physiological on fluidity features. The major contribution of the paper relies on third section in which we shed light on the monetary and banking ideas developed by Prospère Enfantin, who was the one, among Saint-Simonians, who contributed the most to developed a more modern views on banking and monetary principles for that time. This will enable us to open the following question: to what extent can we talk on a proper monetary ‘theory’ among the Saint-Simonians. Section 4 aims at enlightening practical applications: we will see to what extent Saint-Simonian theories had been put into practice in the 19th century and onwards, notably due to the efforts done by the d’Eichthal’s brothers and Pereire’s brothers. Section 5 concludes on the existence -or not- of a specific monetary and banking theory distinct from a broader approach of society per se.

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Keywords: Saint-Simonianism ; Banking theory ; Money

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