This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
The regional currency.
Sometimes the fastest path to innovation comes in casting aside played-out assumptions. Robert Mundell of Kingston, Ontario, was one for discarding outdated thinking to get at something new: if states within countries could share the same currency, he thought, what stopped countries within regions from doing the same? Some speculate that his being from Canada—a country not only made up of many disparate parts but also whose economic welfare had been tied to the fortunes of more powerful nations for generations—inspired his proposition. The economist’s freeing premise led him to develop the concept of a regional currency in 1961. His idea took on even greater, ahem, currency as the post-war world experienced rapidly increasing levels of international trade and capital movement. Dr. Mundell believed a shared currency, in this new kind of world especially, could enable countries within regions to maximize their economic efficiency. His carefully articulated notion paved the way for the fourteen founding jurisdictions of the Eurozone to adopt the Euro on January 1, 1999, the same year Mundell accepted the Nobel Prize in economics. Some forty years after Mundell first articulated the idea, the regional currency became real.