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A Model of Bimetallism


  • Francois R. Velde
  • Warren E. Weber


Bimetallism has been the subject of considerable debate: Was it a viable monetary system? Was it desirable? In our model, the amounts of each metal are split between coined metal, satisfying a cash-in-advance constraint, and uncoined metal, yielding utility. The ratio of the monies in the cash-in-advance constraint is endogenous. Bimetallism is feasible: we find a continuum of steady states indexed by the constant exchange rate of the monies. Bimetallism is not desirable: among steady states, welfare under monometallism is higher than under any bimetallic equilibrium. Long-run trends in gold and silver production placed limits on the maintenance of bimetallism at any given ratio, but its sudden collapse in 1873 remains a puzzle.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:108:y:2000:i:6:p:1210-1234

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen F. Quinn & William Roberds, 2005. "The big problem of large bills: the Bank of Amsterdam and the origins of central banking," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2005-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. George J. Hall & Thomas J. Sargent, 2015. "A History of U.S. Debt Limits," NBER Working Papers 21799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. Newby, Elisa, 2012. "The suspension of the gold standard as sustainable monetary policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1498-1519.
    5. Andre Varella Mollick, 2016. "Adoption of the Gold Standard and Real Exchange Rates in the Core and Periphery, 1870–1913," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 89-107, April.
    6. Antoine Martin, 2002. "Reconciling Bagehot with the Fed's response to Sept. 11," Research Working Paper RWP 02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    7. Angela Redish & Warren E. Weber, 2011. "A model of commodity money with minting and melting," Staff Report 460, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    8. Diebolt, Claude & Parent, Antoine, 2008. "Bimetallism: The "rules of the game"," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 288-302, July.
    9. Bojanic, Antonio N., 2011. "Final Years of the Silver Standard in Mexico: Evidence of Purchasing Power Parity with The United States," MPRA Paper 45535, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Jul 2011.
    10. Elisa Newby, 2007. "Macroeconomic Implications of Gold Reserve Policy of the Bank of England during the Eighteenth Century," CDMA Working Paper Series 200708, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    11. Peter Kugler, 2011. "Financial Market Integration in Late Medieval Europe: Results from a Threshold Error Correction Model for the Rhinegulden and Basle Pound 1365-1429," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 147(III), pages 337-352, September.
    12. Kahn, Charles M. & Roberds, William, 2009. "Why pay? An introduction to payments economics," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-23, January.
    13. Fernholz, Ricardo T. & Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc, 2017. "Pulling up the tarnished anchor: The end of silver as a global unit of account," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 209-228.

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