This chapter describes Benjamin Franklin's thought on commerce in America. Commerce concerned the circulation of raw materials and finished goods, rough ideas, and refined sentiments, and involved much more than simply buying and selling. According to Franklin, commerce, or the exchange of one commodity or manufacture for another, is highly convenient and beneficial to mankind because it eliminates the inefficiencies and instabilities of barter exchange. Money is simply a socially agreed-upon medium of exchange and the true standard for value is provided by labor. A plentiful money supply does, however, enable efficient market institutions to develop, spurring immigration and serving as a stimulus to growth. Scarce money, by contrast, frustrates commercial exchange and encourages recourse to barter.
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