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Money and Prices in Colonial America: A New Test of Competing Theories

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  • McCallum, Bennett T

Abstract

In a long-standing controversy over monetary experiences in colonial America, the main substantive issue concerns large and rapid increases in stocks of paper currency that were followed by negligible changes in price levels. The "backing theory" or anticlassical interpretation is that prices failed to respond to major increases in total money supplies. The "quantity theory" or classical hypothesis, by contrast, is that specie was exported in amounts that left total money stocks approximately unchanged. This paper develops and applies a strategy for resolving this fundamental disagreement despite the absence of data on stocks and flows of specie. Copyright 1992 by University of Chicago Press.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 100 (1992)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 143-61

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:100:y:1992:i:1:p:143-61

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References

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  1. Michener, Ronald, 1987. "Fixed exchange rates and the quantity theory in colonial America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 233-307, January.
  2. Bruce D. Smith, 1985. "American Colonial Monetary Regimes: The Failure of the Quantity Theory and Some Evidence in Favour of an Alternative View," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 531-65, August.
  3. Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "The Role of Overlapping-Generations Models in Monetary Economics," NBER Working Papers 0989, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
  5. Calomiris, Charles W., 1988. "Institutional Failure, Monetary Scarcity, and the Depreciation of the Continental," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(01), pages 47-68, March.
  6. West, Robert Craig, 1978. "Money in the Colonial American Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, January.
  7. Hanson, John R, II, 1979. "Money in the Colonial American Economy: An Extension," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(2), pages 281-86, April.
  8. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Sproul, 1998. "Backed Money, Fiat Money, and the Real Bills Doctrine," UCLA Economics Working Papers 774B, UCLA Department of Economics.
  2. Officer, Lawrence H., 2005. "The quantity theory in New England, 1703-1749: new data to analyze an old question," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 101-121, January.
  3. Farley Grubb, 2014. "A New Approach to Solving the Colonial Monetary Puzzle: Evidence from New Jersey, 1709-1775," NBER Working Papers 19903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Farley Grubb, 2014. "Colonial New Jersey's Paper Money Regime, 1709-1775: A Forensic Accounting Reconstruction of the Data," Working Papers 14-05, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  5. Michael F. Sproul, 1997. "The Real Bills Doctrine: A Restatement," Macroeconomics 9711001, EconWPA.
  6. Peter L. Rousseau, 2009. "Monetary Policy and the Dollar," NBER Working Papers 14993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Chronic Specie Scarcity and Efficient Barter: The Problem of Maintaining an Outside Money Supply in British Colonial America," NBER Working Papers 18099, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Michael D. Bordo & Lars Jonung, 1999. "The Future of EMU: What Does the History of Monetary Unions Tell Us?," NBER Working Papers 7365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Is Paper Money just Paper Money/ Experimentation and Local Variation in the Fiat Paper Monies Issued by the Colonial Government of British North America, 1690-1775: Part I," Working Papers 12-07, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  10. Peter L. Rousseau, 2007. "Backing, the Quantity Theory, and the Transition to the U.S. Dollar, 1723-1850," NBER Working Papers 12835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Gary Pecquet & Clifford Thies, 2010. "Money in occupied New Orleans, 1862–1868: A test of Selgin’s “salvaging” of Gresham’s Law," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 111-126, June.
  12. Farley Grubb, 2005. "Two Theories of Money Reconciled: The Colonial Puzzle Revisited with New Evidence," NBER Working Papers 11784, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Michael Sproul, 1998. "The Quantity Theory versus the Real Bills Doctrine in Colonial America," UCLA Economics Working Papers 775B, UCLA Department of Economics.
  14. Michael F. Sproul, 2003. "There's No Such Thing As Fiat Money," UCLA Economics Working Papers 830, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Farley Grubb, 2014. "A New Approach to Explaining the Value of Colonial Paper Money: Evidence from New Jersey, 1709-1775," Working Papers 14-08, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
  16. Gary M. Pecquet & Clifford F. Thies, 2006. "Texas Treasury Warrants, 1861-1865: A Test Of The Tax-Backing Of Money," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 191-203, Spring.
  17. Grubb, Farley, 2004. "The circulating medium of exchange in colonial Pennsylvania, 1729-1775: new estimates of monetary composition, performance, and economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 329-360, October.

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