The Vision of Reformer Silvio Gesell

by Guido Giacomo Preparata and John E. Elliott (1931-2001), Department of Economics, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA

ABSTRACT: During the first decades of the 20th century, German businessman Silvio Gesell (1862-1930) championed with a certain success the reforming wave of the epoch.  Above all, his idea was to allow money “to die.”  And to make it die, he devised the notion of “Free-Money.” Free-Money consisted in the proposal to print certificates with an expiration date. In sum, Gesell complemented ingenious solutions to the problems of interest and rent with radical theoretical insights.

The purpose of this paper is to offer an introduction to such intuitions. All the more so their validity had been recognized even by a few distinguished academics of the 1930s. But because of the extreme complications that eventually mired German intellectual production in its quasi-entirety before WWII, they failed to preserve the deserved consideration, however slight, they had earned when first formulated. A reappraisal of Gesell’s contributions, considering the importance of his main themes, may be worthwhile. This is especially the case as these deal with questions unsolved to this day.

International Journal of Social Economics. Vol. 31 No. 10, 2004.

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