From cash to private and public digital currencies. The risk of financial instability and “modern monetary Middle ages”


  • Ansgar Belke Universität Duisburg-Essen (Campus Essen), Faculty of Economics, Essen (Germany) / Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels (Belgium)
  • Edoardo Beretta Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Institute of Economics (IdEP), Lugano (Switzerland) / Monetary Research Center (MRC), University of National and World Economy, Sofia (Bulgaria)



The article analyzes the unstable equilibrium between further developing national monetary systems by means of (private/public) digital currencies while maintaining financial stability as secured by “tangible” store of values like notes/coins. Which are those elements of innovation improving today’s payments system? And, at the same time, which modern trends might destabilize the above-mentioned equilibrium? The paper will identify fundamental monetary principles to be respected, no matter what the innovation level in post-modern economies might soon look like. Cryptocurrencies will be also compared to central bank digital currencies (CBDC), which might soon complement or even replace notes and coins. But, is cash truly a “barbarous relic”? And, which impact might have its legal limitation (as occurring in several European countries)?

Author Biographies

Ansgar Belke, Universität Duisburg-Essen (Campus Essen), Faculty of Economics, Essen (Germany) / Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels (Belgium)

Prof. Dr. Ansgar Belke is a Full Professor of Macroeconomics and Director of the Institute of Business and Economic Studies (IBES) at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He has been (ad personam) Jean Monnet Professor since 2012. Moreover, he is an Associate Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels; Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Data Analytics for Finance and Macroeconomics (DAFM), King’s Business School, London; a member of the Adjunct Faculty at the Ruhr Graduate School in Economics (RGS Econ); and a Visiting Professor at the Europa-Institut at Saarland University, Saarbrucken. 

He is President of the European Economics and Finance Society (EEFS) and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of IAW Tubingen, the Councils of “Arbeitskreis Europäische Integration” (AEI), the “Institut für Europäische Politik” (IEP), the Executive Committee of the International Atlantic Economic Society (IAES), and the Scientific Committee of the International Network for Economic Research (INFER). He is also a Research Fellow at IZA Bonn, the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and at CELSI, Bratislava; a member of the professional central bank watch group “ECB Observer”; a member of the Bureau of European Policy Analysis (BEPA) Visitors’ Programme of the European Commission; an external consultant to DG ECFIN of the European Commission; and an external consultant to the European Union Committee of the House of Lords (UK). He has conducted successful research projects on behalf of the German Bundesbank, the European Commision, the German Federal Ministry of Finance, and the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, among other organizations. He served as a member of the “Monetary Expert Panel” of the European Parliament from 2009 to 2014. He obtained his BA and MA in Economics in Münster, Paris, and Kiel, and a PhD in Economics and Habilitation in Economics and Econometrics from the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany.

He serves as editor-in-chief of the journals Applied Economics Quarterly, Credit and Capital Markets—Kredit und Kapital, and Economist’s Voice and as a member of the editorial board of the journals International EconomicsGeopolitics Under GlobalizationJournal of Economic StudiesList Forum für Wirtschafts- und FinanzpolitikFrontiers of Accounting and FinanceInternational Journal of Financial StudiesAestimatio—The International IEB Journal of FinanceVierteljahrshefte zur WirtschaftsforschungInternational Economics and Economic Policy, and Empirica—Journal of European Economics. He is a member of the editorial board and co-editor of Economics (the e-journal of the Kiel Institute of the World Economy); editor of the book series “Financial and Monetary Policy Studies” (Springer); guest editor of renowned journals such as Journal of International Money and FinanceEconomic ModellingOpen Economies ReviewCredit and Capital MarketsInternational Journal of Financial StudiesEnergy EconomicsInternational Economics and Economic PolicyEuropean Journal of Political EconomyCredit and Capital Markets ICredit and Capital Markets IIReview of Development Economics, and the Review of International Economics; and co-editor of the book series “Quantitative Ökonomie” (Eul-Verlag) and “Hohenheimer Volkswirtschaftliche Schriften” (Lang-Verlag).

Edoardo Beretta, Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Institute of Economics (IdEP), Lugano (Switzerland) / Monetary Research Center (MRC), University of National and World Economy, Sofia (Bulgaria)

The Director of examinations of the Faculty of Economics, member of the Scientific Directorate and Program Manager of the Lugano part of the Master in Economia e Politiche Internazionali (MEPIN), Lecturer of the course "Macroeconomia internazionale" and Adjunct Professor at Franklin University Switzerland (Sorengo-Lugano), Dr. sc. ec. Dr. rer. pol. Edoardo Beretta's research focus lies on international macroeconomics. In this specific regard he has analyzed selected aspects like the German external/war debt problem in historical perspective, the debate on the international monetary order as well as past and current reform proposals of the international payments system and exchange-rate regimes. He also holds two PhDs in Economics - the first one (Dr. sc. ec.) from USI while the second one (Dr. rer. pol.) from the Universität Duisburg-Essen (Germany). The German nation and its economic literature represent a significant source of inspiration to overcome the recent global crisis and also lead his research work. Recently, he has focused his attention on the Euro Area as conceived today as well as on contemporaneous decisions in terms of economic policies, like minimum wages (in the German case), payment methods and on how to conceive work in the 21st Century. He has also participated (as a speaker and a guest) in several scientific conferences and/or seminars.


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How to Cite

Belke, A., & Beretta, E. (2020). From cash to private and public digital currencies. The risk of financial instability and “modern monetary Middle ages”. Economics and Business Letters, 9(3), 189–196.