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Debt enforcement and the return on money

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  • Rojas-Breu, M.

Abstract

The rate-of-return-dominance puzzle asks why low-return assets, like fiat money, are used in actual economies given that risk-free higher-return assets are available. As long as this question remains unresolved, most conclusions from monetary models which arbitrarily restrict the marketability properties of alternative assets to make money valuable are difficult to assess. In this paper, I provide a framework in which fiat money has value in equilibrium, even though a higher-return asset is available and there are neither restrictions nor transaction costs in using it. I suggest that the use of money is associated with frictions underlying debt contracts. In an environment where full enforcement is not feasible, the actual rate of return on assets is determined by incentives eliciting voluntary debt repayment. I show that the inflation rate or, more generally, the depreciation rate of an asset in which debts are denominated may function as a commitment device. As a result, money is used in equilibrium and the optimal inflation rate is positive.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Banque de France in its series Working papers with number 345.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bfr:banfra:345

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Postal: Banque de France 31 Rue Croix des Petits Champs LABOLOG - 49-1404 75049 PARIS
Web page: http://www.banque-france.fr/
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Related research

Keywords: Money; Inflation; Debt Enforcement; Banking.;

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  1. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 1993. "Debt-Constrained Asset Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 865-88, October.
  2. Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2009. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1137-1164, 07.
  3. Lagos, Ricardo, 2010. "Asset prices and liquidity in an exchange economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 913-930, November.
  4. S. Rao Aiyagari & Stephen D. Williamson, 1998. "Money and Dynamic Credit Arrangements with Private Information," Game Theory and Information 9802002, EconWPA.
  5. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
  6. Berentsen, Aleksander & Camera, Gabriele & Waller, Christopher, 2007. "Money, credit and banking," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 171-195, July.
  7. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-41, February.
  8. Antonia Diaz & Fernando Perera-Tallo, 2007. "Credit and inflation under borrower’s lack of commitment," Economics Working Papers we077946, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  9. Hellwig, Martin F., 1993. "The challenge of monetary theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 215-242, April.
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