Christine A. Desan, The Market as a Matter of Money: Denaturalizing Economic Currency in American Constitutional History, 30 Law & Soc. Inquiry 1 (2005).
Abstract: Histories of the early American political economy present that world in fractured form, dividing political and constitutional dimensions from economic aspects. The fragmented approach reflects an old, oft‐denigrated, but still powerful imagery, one that naturalizes economic activity as a set of myriad spontaneous and individuated exchanges, conducted with a conventional medium, money, and predictably composing a market sphere. The motif and its underlying assumptions in turn dissuade exploration of money and markets as territories of public decision, insulating by neglect the structural power of determinations made there. This essay traces the naturalization motif through a historiography of macroeconomic models of money. It then considers how money, recognized as a dynamics of value, would look if the law structuring it were approached as a complex set of relations that expressed, reiterated, and revised the distribution of authority in society. The early American political economy appears in a different light: money becomes a matter of value and governance at once, and therefore a crucial area of constitutional debate. Through that medium, the political economy of early America is transformed not once but repeatedly, from a mercantilist to a domestic paper to a liberal capitalist form.