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Money and Prices in Colonial America: A New Test of Competing Theories

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  • McCallum, Bennett T

Abstract

In a long-standing controversy over monetary experiences in colonial America, the main substantive issue concerns large and rapid increases in stocks of paper currency that were followed by negligible changes in price levels. The "backing theory" or anticlassical interpretation is that prices failed to respond to major increases in total money supplies. The "quantity theory" or classical hypothesis, by contrast, is that specie was exported in amounts that left total money stocks approximately unchanged. This paper develops and applies a strategy for resolving this fundamental disagreement despite the absence of data on stocks and flows of specie. Copyright 1992 by University of Chicago Press.

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  • McCallum, Bennett T, 1992. "Money and Prices in Colonial America: A New Test of Competing Theories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 143-161, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:100:y:1992:i:1:p:143-61
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    1. Barro, Robert J, 1974. "Are Government Bonds Net Wealth?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1095-1117, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Calomiris, Charles W., 1988. "Institutional Failure, Monetary Scarcity, and the Depreciation of the Continental," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(01), pages 47-68, March.
    3. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
    4. West, Robert Craig, 1978. "Money in the Colonial American Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, January.
    5. McCallum, Bennett T., 1983. "The role of overlapping-generations models in monetary economics," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 9-44, January.
    6. Hanson, John R, II, 1979. "Money in the Colonial American Economy: An Extension," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(2), pages 281-286, April.
    7. Michener, Ronald, 1987. "Fixed exchange rates and the quantity theory in colonial America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 233-307, January.
    8. Bruce D. Smith, 1985. "American Colonial Monetary Regimes: The Failure of the Quantity Theory and Some Evidence in Favour of an Alternative View," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 18(3), pages 531-565, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rousseau, Peter L. & Stroup, Caleb, 2011. "Monetization and growth in colonial New England, 1703–1749," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 600-613.
    2. Grubb, Farley, 2004. "The circulating medium of exchange in colonial Pennsylvania, 1729-1775: new estimates of monetary composition, performance, and economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 329-360, October.
    3. Peter L. Rousseau, 2010. "Monetary Policy and the Dollar," NBER Chapters,in: Founding Choices: American Economic Policy in the 1790s, pages 121-149 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Officer, Lawrence H., 2005. "The quantity theory in New England, 1703-1749: new data to analyze an old question," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 101-121, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Michael D. Bordo & Lars Jonung, 1999. "The Future of EMU: What Does the History of Monetary Unions Tell Us?," NBER Working Papers 7365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Gary M. Pecquet & Clifford F. Thies, 2006. "Texas Treasury Warrants, 1861-1865: A Test Of The Tax-Backing Of Money," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 32(2), pages 191-203, Spring.
    9. Michael Sproul, 1998. "Backed Money, Fiat Money, and the Real Bills Doctrine," UCLA Economics Working Papers 774B, UCLA Department of Economics.
    10. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Is Paper Money Just Paper Money? Experimentation and Variation in the Paper Monies Issued by the American Colonies from 1690 to 1775," NBER Working Papers 17997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Is Paper Money just Paper Money/ Experimentation and Local Variation in the Fiat Paper Monies Issued by the Colonial Government of British North America, 1690-1775: Part I," Working Papers 12-07, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    12. Farley Grubb, 2014. "A New Approach to Solving the Colonial Monetary Puzzle: Evidence from New Jersey, 1709-1775," NBER Working Papers 19903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Peter L. Rousseau, 2007. "Backing, the Quantity Theory, and the Transition to the US Dollar, 1723–1850," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 266-270, May.
    14. repec:eee:rujoec:v:3:y:2017:i:3:p:280-295 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Ron Michener & Robert E. Wright, 2006. "Miscounting Money of Colonial America," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(1), pages 4-44, January.
    16. Farley Grubb, 2006. "Theory, Evidence, and Belief—The Colonial Money Puzzle Revisited: Reply to Michener and Wright," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 3(1), pages 45-72, January.
    17. Farley Grubb, 2013. "Colonial New Jersey's Paper Money Regime, 1709-1775: A Forensic Accounting Reconstruction of the Data," NBER Working Papers 19710, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Michael Sproul, 1998. "The Quantity Theory versus the Real Bills Doctrine in Colonial America," UCLA Economics Working Papers 775B, UCLA Department of Economics.
    19. Farley Grubb, 2014. "A New Approach to Explaining the Value of Colonial Paper Money: Evidence from New Jersey, 1709-1775," Working Papers 14-08, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    20. Michael F. Sproul, 2003. "There's No Such Thing As Fiat Money," UCLA Economics Working Papers 830, UCLA Department of Economics.
    21. Farley Grubb, 2003. "Two Theories of Money Reconciled: The Colonial Puzzle Revisited with New Evidence," Working Papers 03-03, University of Delaware, Department of Economics.
    22. Michael F. Sproul, 1997. "The Real Bills Doctrine: A Restatement," Macroeconomics 9711001, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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