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Commodity Money Inflation: Theory and Evidence from France in 1350-1436

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  • Sussman, Nathan

    (Hebrew U of Jerusalem)

  • Zeira, Joseph

    (Hebrew U of Jerusalem, Harvard U, and CEPR)

Abstract

This paper presents a theory of inflation in commodity money and supports it by evidence from inflationary episodes in France during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The paper shows that commodity money can be inflated similarly to fiat money through repeated debasements, which act like devaluations. Furthermore, as with fiat money, demand for commodity money falls with inflation. Unlike fiat money, at high rates of inflation demand for commodity money becomes insensitive to inflation, since commodity money has intrinsic value in addition to its transactions value. Finally, we show that an anticipated stabilization reduces demand for commodity money, which is opposite to the effect of anticipated standard stabilization on demand for fiat money.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government in its series Working Paper Series with number rwp02-008.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:rwp02-008

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  1. Rolnick, Arthur J. & Velde, François R. & Weber, Warren E., 1996. "The Debasement Puzzle: An Essay on Medieval Monetary History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(04), pages 789-808, December.
  2. Pamuk, Şevket, 1997. "In the Absence of Domestic Currency: Debased European Coinage in the Seventeenth–Century Ottoman Empire," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 345-366, June.
  3. Bruce D. Smith & Thomas J. Sargent, 1997. "Coinage, debasements, and Gresham's laws," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 197-226.
  4. Kindleberger, Charles P., 1991. "The Economic Crisis of 1619 to 1623," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 51(01), pages 149-175, March.
  5. Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber & Randall Wright, . "A Model of Commodity Money, With Application to Gresham's Law and the Debasement Puzzle," CARESS Working Papres 97-7, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  6. Sussman, Nathan, 1993. "Debasements, Royal Revenues, and Inflation in France During the Hundred Years' War, 1415–1422," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 53(01), pages 44-70, March.
  7. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1996. "Foundations of International Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262150476, January.
  8. Li, Yiting, 1995. "Commodity money under private information," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 573-592, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. William Roberds & Stephen Quinn, 2005. "The Big Problem of Large Bills: The Bank of Amsterdam and the Origins of Central Banking," 2005 Meeting Papers 318, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Michael Graff, 2008. "The Quantity Theory of Money in Historical Perspective," KOF Working papers 08-196, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  3. Oliver Volckart, 2008. "‘The big problem of the petty coins’, and how it could be solved in the late Middle Ages," Economic History Working Papers 22310, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
  4. John H. Munro, 2009. "Coinage and Monetary Policies in Burgundian Flanders during the late-medieval 'Bullion Famines',. 1384 - 1482," Working Papers tecipa-361, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  5. Oliver Volckart, 2007. "Rules, Discretion or Reputation? Monetary Policies and the Efficiency of Financial Markets in Germany, 14th to 16th Centuries," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2007-007, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  6. Stephen Quinn & William Roberds, 2006. "An economic explanation of the early Bank of Amsterdam, debasement, bills of exchange, and the emergence of the first central bank," Working Paper 2006-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

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