The American Monetary Institute is a non-profit charitable trust established by Stephen Zarlenga in 1996 for the "independent study of monetary history, theory and reform."
American Monetary Institute Wikipedia
The institute is dedicated to monetary reform and advocates taking control of the monetary system out of the hands of banks and placing it into the hands of the US Treasury. Zarlenga argues that this would mean money would be issued by government interest free and spent into circulation to promote the general welfare, and that substantial expenditures on infrastructure, including human infrastructure (education and health care) would become the predominant method of putting new money into circulation.
Research results are published in Zarlenga's book, The Lost Science of Money. The book asserts that money did not emerge from barter between individuals, but rather through trade between tribes and as part of religious worship and sacrifice. Though this is not the mainstream view, there are other scholars of money, such as Keith Hart, who agree that money developed in this way. The reason this distinction is believed to be important is because, according to Zarlenga, it is the definition of money which determines how the public will allow the money supply to be controlled.
If money is a commodity to be traded, then all that matters is that the money is 100% backed by some commodity, like gold or silver for example. If money is credit, then it makes sense that bankers control it, as they do in the United States today. But if money is an artifact of law, whose value is derived from law (payment of taxes and legal tender laws) then Zarlenga argues it would only be proper for the government to issue, and control the money supply. According to Zarlenga, it is this last definition that is supported by the history and nature of money. Government-controlled money is also postulated to be more stable than credit money or commodity money.
Coins have been claimed to represent an advance over weighing out precious metals with a fixed amount of precious metal being stamped so they need not be weighed and could be exchanged more conveniently than lumps of metal which needed to be weighed.
The 12th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference will be held at the University Center, in Chicago, September 2016. While speakers are still unconfirmed, past speakers have included: Michael Hudson, Richard C. Cook, William K. Black, Dennis Kucinich, and Elizabeth Kucinich.