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A model of commodity money, with applications to Gresham's law and the debasement puzzle

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  • Francois R. Velde
  • Warren E. Weber
  • Randall Wright

Abstract

We develop a model of commodity money and use it to analyze the following two questions motivated by issues in monetary history: What are the conditions under which Gresham's Law holds? And, what are the mechanics of a debasement (lowering the metallic content of coins)? The model contains light and heavy coins, imperfect information, and prices determined via bilateral bargaining. There are equilibria with neither, both, or only one type of coin in circulation. When both circulate, coins may trade by weight or by tale. We discuss the extent to which Gresham's Law holds in the various cases. Following a debasement, the quantity of reminting depends on the incentives offered by the sovereign. Equilibria exist with positive seigniorage and a mixture of old and new coins in circulation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in its series Staff Report with number 215.

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Date of creation: 1997
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:215

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Keywords: Coinage ; Gresham's law;

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References

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  7. Ostroy, Joseph M. & Starr, Ross M., 1990. "The transactions role of money," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: B. M. Friedman & F. H. Hahn (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 3-62 Elsevier.
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  9. Williamson, S. & Wright, R., 1991. "Barter and Monetary Exchange Under Private Information," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 9107, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
  10. Edward J. Green & Ruilin Zhou, . ""A Rudimentary Model of Search with Divisible Money and Prices''," CARESS Working Papres 95-17, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
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  13. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1991. "A contribution to the pure theory of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 215-235, April.
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  17. 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.
  18. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1993. "A Search-Theoretic Approach to Monetary Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(1), pages 63-77, March.
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  20. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1989. "Gresham's Law in a Lemons Market for Assets," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(3), pages 686-97, August.
  21. Edward J. Green & Warren Weber, 1996. "Will the New $100 Bill Decrease Counterfeiting?," Macroeconomics 9609003, EconWPA, revised 11 Sep 1996.
  22. Arthur J. Rolnick & Warren E. Weber, 1986. "Gresham's law or Gresham's fallacy?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 17-24.
  23. Arthur J. Rolnick & François R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 1995. "The debasement puzzle: an essay on medieval monetary policy," Working Papers 536, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  24. Bruce D. Smith & Thomas J. Sargent, 1997. "Coinage, debasements, and Gresham's laws," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 197-226.
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