A Boot on Your Throat
Mercantilism and Inflation
by Murray N. Rothbard
The postmedieval state acquired most of its eagerly sought revenues by taxation. But the state has always been attracted by the idea of creating its own money in addition to plundering directly the wealth of its subjects. Before the invention of paper money, however, the state was limited in money creation to occasional debasements of the coinage, of which it had long managed to secure a compulsory monopoly. For debasement was a one-shot process, and could not be used, as the state would always like, to create money continually and feed it into state coffers for use in building palaces, pyramids, and other consumption goods for the state apparatus and its power elite.
The highly inflationary instrument of government paper money was first discovered in the Western world in French Quebec in 1685. Monsieur Meules, the governing intendant of Quebec, pressed as usual for funds, decided to augment them by dividing some playing cards into quarters, marking them with various denominations of French currency, and then using them to pay for wages and materials. This card money, later redeemed in actual specie, soon became repeatedly issued paper tickets.