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Is Numérairology the Future of Monetary Economics? Unbundling Numéraire and Medium of Exchange Through a Virtual Currency and a Shadow Exchange Rate

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  • Buiter, Willem H

Abstract

The paper discusses some fundamental problems in monetary economics associated with the determination and role of the numéraire. The issues are introduced by formalising a proposal, attributed to Eisler, to remove the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates by unbundling the numéraire and medium of exchange/means of payment functions of money. The monetary authorities manage the exchange rate between the numéraire ('sterling') and the means of payment ('drachma'). The short nominal interest rate on sterling bonds can then be used to target stability for the sterling price level. The paper puts question marks behind two key bits of conventional wisdom in contemporary monetary economics. The first is the assumption that the monetary authorities define and determine the numéraire used in private transactions. The second is the proposition that price stability in terms of that numéraire is the appropriate objective of monetary policy. The paper also discusses the merits of the next step following the decoupling of the numéraire from the currency: doing away with currency altogether - the cashless economy. Because the unit of account plays such a central role in New-Keynesian models with nominal rigidities, monetary economics needs to devote more attention to numérairology - the study of the individual and collective choice processes that govern the adoption of a unit of account and its role in economic behaviour.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6099.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6099

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Keywords: cashless economy; optimal inflation; price level determinacy; zero lower bound;

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  1. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2003. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency: gesell's solution," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(490), pages 723-746, October.
  2. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "Overcoming the zero bound on interest rate policy," Working Paper 00-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  3. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 2001. "Optimal Monetary Policy in Open versus Closed Economies: An Integrated Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 248-252, May.
  4. Buiter, Willem H, 2004. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 4202, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
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  7. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2007. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 171-199.
  8. Buiter, Willem H & Jewitt, Ian, 1981. "Staggered Wage Setting with Real Wage Relativities: Variations on a Theme of Taylor," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 49(3), pages 211-28, September.
  9. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 1999. "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them," NBER Working Papers 7245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Buiter, Willem H. & Sibert, Anne C., 2007. "Deflationary Bubbles," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 431-454, September.
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  17. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1991. "State-Dependent Pricing and the Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 683-708, August.
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  19. Willem H. Buiter, 2002. "The Fiscal Theory Of The Price Level: A Critique," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 459-480, July.
  20. Willem H. Buiter, 2005. "New Developments in Monetary Economics: Two ghosts, Two Eccentricities, a Fallacy, a Mirage and a Mythos," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C1-C31, 03.
  21. Willem H. Buiter & Marcus H. Miller, 1986. "Costs and Benefits of an Anti-Inflationary Policy: Questions and Issues," NBER Working Papers 1252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1982. "Interest rates and currency prices in a two-country world," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 335-359.
  23. Buiter, Willem H., 2006. "The elusive welfare economics of price stability as a monetary policy objective: why New Keynesian central bankers should validate core inflation," Working Paper Series 0609, European Central Bank.
  24. Brock, William A, 1974. "Money and Growth: The Case of Long Run Perfect Foresight," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 15(3), pages 750-77, October.
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Cited by:
  1. Beatriz de Blas & James Costain, 2012. "Smoothing shocks and balancing budgets in a currency union^M," 2012 Meeting Papers 975, Society for Economic Dynamics.

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