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

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  1. Berentsen, Aleksander & Camera, Gabriele & Waller, Christopher, 2007. "Money, credit and banking," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 135(1), pages 171-195, July.
  2. Aiyagari, S. Rao & Williamson, Stephen, 1997. "Money and Dynamic Credit Arrangements with Private Information," Working Papers 97-19, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  3. S. Rao Aiyagari & Neil Wallace & Randall Wright, 1996. "Coexistence of money and interest-bearing securities," Working Papers 550, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Kehoe, Timothy J & Levine, David K, 1993. "Debt-Constrained Asset Markets," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 865-88, October.
  5. Ricardo Lagos, 2005. "Asset Prices and Liquidity in an Exchange Economy," 2005 Meeting Papers 143, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Fernando Perera-Tallo & Antonia Diaz, 2007. "Credit and Inflation under Borrowers' Lack of Commitment," 2007 Meeting Papers 429, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Zhu, Tao & Wallace, Neil, 2007. "Pairwise trade and coexistence of money and higher-return assets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 524-535, March.
  8. Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2006. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," NBER Working Papers 12614, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. 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.
  10. Hellwig, Martin F., 1993. "The challenge of monetary theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 215-242, April.
  11. Díaz, Antonia & Perera-Tallo, Fernando, 2011. "Credit and inflation under borrowerʼs lack of commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(5), pages 1888-1914, September.
  12. 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.
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