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Gresham's law or Gresham's fallacy?

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  • Arthur J. Rolnick
  • Warren E. Weber

Abstract

In this article, the authors argue the answer to their title depends on whether a qualifier is added to the standard version of the law that "bad money drives out good." By examining several historical episodes, they find instances where bad money (valued more at the mint than in the market) failed to drive out good money (valued less at the mint than in the market). Rolnick and Weber next explain why the common qualifier to this law, which requires the mint to fix the rate of exchange at face value, does not reinstate the law. The common qualifier fails to give plausible reasons for how the mint price of money can coexist with a different market price. They then propose a new qualifier to Gresham's Law and argue its validity: bad money drives out good only when there are significant costs to using the good money at a premium.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmqr:y:1986:i:win:p:17-24:n:v.10no.1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sargent, Thomas J. & Wallace, Meil, 1983. "A model of commodity money," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 163-187.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher M. Meissner, 2015. "The Limits of Bimetallism," NBER Working Papers 20852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bernanke, Ben S, 1983. "Nonmonetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in Propagation of the Great Depression," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 257-276, June.
    3. Flandreau, Marc R, 2002. ""Water Seeks a Level": Modeling Bimetallic Exchange Rates and the Bimetallic Band," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 491-519, May.
    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. François 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.
    6. Gerald Caprio & Michael Dooley & Danny Leipziger & Carl Walsh, 1996. "The lender of last resort function under a currency board: The case of Argentina," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 625-650, March.
    7. Li, Ling-Fan, 2009. "After the Great Debasement, 1544-51: did Gresham’s Law apply?," Economic History Working Papers 27874, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    8. Oppers, Stefan Erik, 2000. "A model of the bimetallic system," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 517-533, October.
    9. Jon R. Moen & Ellis W. Tallman, 2003. "New York and the politics of central banks, 1781 to the Federal Reserve Act," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2003-42, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    10. Easton, Steve, 2007. "Valuing coins as the sum of the underlying asset and a perpetual American put option," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 397-402, March.
    11. Robert E. Martin, 2011. "The College Cost Disease," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 14179, June.
    12. Li, Yiting, 2002. "Government transaction policy and Gresham's law," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 435-453, March.
    13. Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi & Silvia Vori, 1993. "Is there a “triffin dilemma” for the EMS?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 4(2), pages 175-188, June.
    14. Gary Pecquet & Clifford Thies, 2010. "Money in occupied New Orleans, 1862–1868: A test of Selgin’s “salvaging” of Gresham’s Law," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 111-126, June.
    15. Svensson, Roger, 2013. "Re-Coinage as a Monetary Tax: Conditions, Consequences and Comparisons with Debasement," Working Paper Series 950, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    16. Nogues-Marco, Pilar, 2013. "Competing Bimetallic Ratios: Amsterdam, London, and Bullion Arbitrage in Mid-Eighteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 73(02), pages 445-476, June.
    17. Y. -Y. Kim, 2004. "Gresham's law in the late Chosun Korea," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(15), pages 979-984.
    18. KiHoon Hong & Kyounghoon Park & Jongmin Yu, 2017. "Crowding out in a Dual Currency Regime? Digital versus Fiat Currency," Working Papers 2017-13, Economic Research Institute, Bank of Korea.
    19. Casey B. Mulligan & Kevin K. Tsui, 2016. "The Upside-down Economics of Regulated and Otherwise Rigid Prices," NBER Working Papers 22305, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Izquierdo, Luis R. & Izquierdo, Segismundo S. & Vega-Redondo, Fernando, 2014. "Leave and let leave: A sufficient condition to explain the evolutionary emergence of cooperation," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 91-113.
    21. Michael D. Bordo, 1988. "The Contribution of a Monetary History of the United States: 1867 to 1960 To Monetary History," NBER Working Papers 2549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Isabel Schnabel & Hyun Song Shin, 2018. "Money and trust: lessons from the 1620s for money in the digital age," BIS Working Papers 698, Bank for International Settlements.
    23. Dilger, Alexander, 2015. "Which currency is best for business in a small country?," Discussion Papers of the Institute for Organisational Economics 5/2015, University of Münster, Institute for Organisational Economics.

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    Keywords

    Money ; Gresham's law;

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