Page:Cournot Theory of Wealth (1838).djvu/41

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27
OF THE THEORY OF WEALTH

discovery of new metallurgical processes, or of new mineral deposits. It is, to be sure, a common saying, that the price of money is steadily diminishing, and fast enough for the depreciation of value of coin to be very perceptible in the course of a generation; but by going back to the cause of this phenomenon, as we have shown how to do in this chapter, it is plain that the relative change is chiefly due to an absolute upward movement of the prices of most of the articles which go directly for the needs or pleasures of mankind, an ascending movement produced by the increase in population and by the progressive developments of industry and labour. Sufficient explanations on this doctrinal point can be found in the writings of most modem economists.

Finally, in what follows, it will be the more legitimate to neglect the absolute variations which affect the value of the monetary metals, as we do not have numerical applications directly in view. If the theory were sufficiently developed, and the data sufficiently accurate, it would be easy to go from the value of an article in terms of a fictitious and invariable modulus, to its monetary value. If the value of an article, in terms of this fictitious modulus, was p, at a time when that of the monetary metal was \pi, and if at another time these quantities had taken other values, p^{\prime} and \pi^{\prime}, it is evident that the monetary value of the article would have varied in the ratio of

\frac{p}{\pi} \mbox{ to } \frac{p^\prime}{\pi^\prime}.

If the absolute value of the monetary metals during long periods only suffers slow variations, which are hardly per-