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Salvaging Gresham's Law: The Good, the Bad, and the Illegal


  • Selgin, George


Contrary to the claims of Arthur Rolnick and Warren Weber, Gresham's Law is not a 'fallacy.' Nor does it rest on the unrealistic assumption of an operational fixed (disequilibrium) exchange rate between two economically distinct monies. Here I interpret Gresham's Law as a result of coercive legal tender laws aimed at discouraging agents from discriminating among alternative monies. Such laws can systematically drive 'good' money out of circulation by placing buyers and sellers in a Prisoner's Dilemma in which the use of 'bad' money represents a unique noncooperative equilibrium. I offer some historical examples, which are not readily explainable using Rolnick and Weber's proposed alternative to Gresham's Law. Copyright 1996 by Ohio State University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Selgin, George, 1996. "Salvaging Gresham's Law: The Good, the Bad, and the Illegal," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(4), pages 637-649, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:28:y:1996:i:4:p:637-49

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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. repec:jpe:journl:1495 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Y. -Y. Kim, 2004. "Gresham's law in the late Chosun Korea," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 11(15), pages 979-984.
    6. 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.

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