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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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  1. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Maskin, Eric S, 1996. "A Walrasian Theory of Money and Barter," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 955-1005, November.
  2. Xavier Cuadras, 1993. "Commodity money in the presence of goods of heterogenous quality," Economics Working Papers 40, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Camera, Gabriele & Corbae, Dean, 1999. "Money and Price Dispersion," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(4), pages 985-1008, November.
  6. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  7. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  8. 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.
  9. Williamson, Steve & Wright, Randall, 1994. "Barter and Monetary Exchange under Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 104-23, March.
  10. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1983. "A model of commodity money," Staff Report 85, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  11. Joseph M. Ostroy & Ross M. Starr, 1988. "The Transactions Role of Money," UCLA Economics Working Papers 505, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Shouyong Shi, 1995. "Money and Prices: A Model of Search and Bargaining," Working Papers 916, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
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  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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  18. Miguel Molico, 2006. "The Distribution Of Money And Prices In Search Equilibrium," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(3), pages 701-722, 08.
  19. 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.
  20. Williamson, Stephen D., 1992. "Laissez-faire banking and circulating media of exchange," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 134-167, June.
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  22. Edward J. Green & Ruilin Zhou, . "A Rudimentary Model of Search with Divisible Money and Prices," Penn CARESS Working Papers 2772f94306e08ef7292945588, Penn Economics Department.
  23. Edward J. Green & Warren E. Weber, 1996. "Will the new $100 bill decrease counterfeiting?," Working Papers 571, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  24. 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.
  25. Rolnick, Arthur J & Weber, Warren E, 1986. "Gresham's Law or Gresham's Fallacy?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(1), pages 185-99, February.
  26. Alberto Trejos, 1997. "Incentives to produce quality and the liquidity of money (*)," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 355-365.
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