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An information-based theory of international currency

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  • Zhang, Cathy

Abstract

This paper develops an information-based theory of international currency based on search frictions, private trading histories, and imperfect recognizability of assets. Using an open-economy search model with multiple competing currencies, the value of each currency is determined without requiring agents to use a particular currency to purchase a country's goods. Strategic complementarities in portfolio choices and information acquisition decisions generate multiple equilibria with different types of payment arrangements. While some inflation can benefit the country issuing an international currency, the threat of losing international status puts an inflation discipline on the issuing country. When monetary authorities interact in a simple policy game, the temptation to inflate can lead optimal policy to deviate from the Friedman rule. The calibrated model can produce a welfare cost of losing international status for the issuing country larger than previous findings, though estimates depend critically on inflation rates and information costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Cathy, 2014. "An information-based theory of international currency," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 286-301.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:93:y:2014:i:2:p:286-301
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2014.04.005
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    Keywords

    International currencies; Monetary search; Liquidity; Information frictions;

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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