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Coin Sizes And Payments In Commodity Money Systems


  • Redish, Angela
  • Weber, Warren E.


Contemporaries and economic historians have noted several features of medieval and early modern European monetary systems that are hard to analyze using models of centralized exchange. For example, contemporaries complained of recurrent shortages of small change and argued that an abundance/dearth of money had real effects on exchange, especially for the poor. To confront these facts, we build a random-matching monetary model with two indivisible coins with different intrinsic values. The model shows that small change shortages can exist, in the sense that adding small coins to an economy with only large coins is welfare-improving. This effect is amplified by increases in trading opportunities. Further, changes in the quantity of monetary metals affect the real economy and the amount of exchange as well as the optimal denomination size. Finally, the model shows that replacing full-bodied small coins with tokens is not necessarily welfare-improving.

Suggested Citation

  • Redish, Angela & Weber, Warren E., 2011. "Coin Sizes And Payments In Commodity Money Systems," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(S1), pages 62-82, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:macdyn:v:15:y:2011:i:s1:p:62-82_00

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 2000. "A Model of Bimetallism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1210-1234, December.
    2. Fran├žois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber & Randall Wright, 1999. "A Model of Commodity Money, with Applications to Gresham's Law and the Debasement Puzzle," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 2(1), pages 291-323, January.
    3. Vincent Bignon & Richard Dutu, 2006. "Moneychangers and Commodity Money," EconomiX Working Papers 2006-9, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
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    Cited by:

    1. Williamson, Stephen & Wright, Randall, 2010. "New Monetarist Economics: Models," Handbook of Monetary Economics,in: Benjamin M. Friedman & Michael Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 2, pages 25-96 Elsevier.
    2. Angela Redish & Warren E. Weber, 2011. "A model of commodity money with minting and melting," Staff Report 460, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    3. repec:cup:macdyn:v:21:y:2017:i:06:p:1305-1335_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Chronic Specie Scarcity and Efficient Barter: The Problem of Maintaining an Outside Money Supply in British Colonial America ," Working Papers 12-08, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    5. Fischer, Andreas M., 2014. "Immigration And Large Banknotes," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(04), pages 899-919, June.
    6. Bignon, Vincent & Dutu, Richard, 2017. "Coin Assaying And Commodity Money," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(06), pages 1305-1335, September.
    7. Farley Grubb, 2015. "Common Currency versus Currency Union: The U.S. Continental Dollar and Denominational Structure, 1775-1776," NBER Working Papers 21728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Farley Grubb, 2015. "Common Currency versus Currency Union: The U.S. Continental Dollar and Denominational Structure, 1775-1779," Working Papers 15-10, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.

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