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Conferences of the Historical Research Unit

The Banque de France's programme of postgraduate conferences will continue in 2018, with the same objective of giving a voice to both experienced and novice researchers.

Currency credibility from John Law to bitcoin

Conferences of the Banque de France's Historical Research Unit for 2018

Organisation: Olivier Feiertag and Michel Margairaz

All sessions are held on Mondays from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Banque de France,

9, rue du Colonel Driant, 75001 Paris


Credibility is the cornerstone of the three traditional functions of money. Nobody expresses it better than Hawtrey, product of the British school of monetary thinking during the inter-war period: "Money is one of those concepts which, like a teaspoon or an umbrella, but unlike an earthquake or a buttercup, are definable primarily by the use or purpose which they serve […]: to choose one standard commodity to be offered by every buyer and accepted by every seller." (Currency and Credit, 1930). The perfect definition of credibility.

Exploring the history of the credibility of currencies, from the XVIIIth century to the present day, is to (re)formulate three questions that underlie and ultimately encapsulate the majority of approaches to currency, credit and banks:

  • Is monetary credibility – a collective public good – rooted in the state or in the market? Ultimately, what makes a currency "legal tender"? The military and financial power of a sovereign state, able to control its finances and its borders? Or the efficiency and stability of the financial market, able to guarantee the liquidity and profitability of all forms of currency?

  • How is the credibility of a currency created, maintained or re-established? This is the core issue behind any monetary policy: neither too much, nor too little money in circulation. What role should a central bank play in managing currency credibility? Is the central bank's independence an absolute precondition of monetary credibility? How important is the issuance of fiat money and its consequences, such as anti-counterfeiting measures, for currency credibility? Is the central bank all powerful? What is the role of the banking system, and beyond that, the financial system as a whole?

  • What becomes of a currency's credibility on the world stage? Why are certain currencies accepted as legal tender outside the borders of the issuing state? How can the distinct role of gold be explained? How do cryptocurrencies, of which bitcoin is currently the best known, develop? And above all, what institutions are best placed to try to manage the overall credibility of one or more currencies and regulate the relationships between all currencies of highly contrasting credibilities?

These questions, and others, shape the conference programme sessions for 2018 and 2019. The programme will conclude with the Historical Research Unit's biennial symposium, which will be held on 21 and 22 November 2019. It will be devoted to the issue of monetary credibility and an official publication will be made available.


Session – Monday, 5 February 2018

The credibility of the CFA franc

Toyomu Masaki (Kanazawa University): A history of the transaction account


Session – Monday, 12 March 2018

Monetary credibility and political legitimacy

Chislain Moupebele Makadjoka (EHESS – School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences): The government of Gabon and the reform of the BCEAEC's statutes (1969-1977)

Karl Adhépeau (University of Rouen): Collective management of inflation in West Africa, past and present


Session – Monday, 16 April 2018

The credibility of the central bank

Adriano Do Vale (CEPN-University of Paris 13): An alternative reading of the history of central bank independence: art before science

Yuta Takeda (University of Rouen): The credibility of the Banque de France in the French Republic (1881-1897)


Session – Monday, 14 May 2018

The credibility of a monetary zone

François de Coustin (Banque de France): Inventing the franc zone: the role of the Banque de France (1945-1955)

Bamidele Aly (University of Paris 1): Monetary creations in Nigeria (1967-1974), a tool for war and a tool for identity


Session – Monday, 4 June 2018

A common currency, a single currency: how credible is it?

Laura Ransau (University of Paris 1): The Association pour l’Union Monétaire de l’Europe and European economic and monetary integration, 1987-1992

Nicolas de Sèze and Dominique de Rambures (Banque de France):

A history of the private ECU


Session – Monday, 8 October 2018

Nation-building and building monetary credibility in Africa

Olivier Feiertag (University of Rouen): Constructing the credibility of the Moroccan franc (1906-1956)

Vincent Duchaussoy (University of Rouen): Africanisation and the credibility of the CFA franc


Session – Monday, 12 November 2018

Monetary credibility between violence and trust

Patrice Baubeau (University Paris Nanterre): The gold standard and the credibility of currencies

Mathieu Bidaux (Banque de France/University of Rouen): Counterfeiting and the credibility of the banknote


Session – Monday, 10 December 2018

Euro vs. bitcoin: monetary credibility today

Bruno Théret (CNRS): A history of bitcoin

Clément Fontan: The credibility of the ECB

Updated on: 05/04/2018 15:08