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Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience

In: Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy

  • Robert J. Shiller

    (Yale University)

An indexed unit of account is a money analogue, used to express prices; the unit's" purchasing power is defined by an index. Indexed units of account are not true money in that" they are not used as a medium of exchange. The first successful indexed unit of account Unidad de Fomento (UF) has been used in Chile since 1967, and has been copied in Colombia Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay. The reasons for creating such units are discussed from the" standpoint of monetary theory. The experience with such units in Chile is discussed. It is argued" that important practical problems in implementing indexation were solved by creating such" indexed units of account. The existing indexed units of accounts may not be ideal for all" purposes, however, and alternative definitions of the units, relating the units to measures of" income, may also be advantageous. The indexed units of account might someday be" monetized,' i.e., institutions such as debit cards may be devised to allow the units to be used for" all transactions, so that the role of conventional money might be reduced to clearing-house" functions only.

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This chapter was published in: Fernando Lefort & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series Editor) (ed.) Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy, , chapter 4, pages 105-134, 2002.
This item is provided by Central Bank of Chile in its series Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series with number v02c04pp105-134.
Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchsb:v02c04pp105-134
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  1. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
  2. Michael D. Bordo & Anna J. Schwartz, 1987. "The ECU - An Imaginary or Embryonic Form of Money: What Can We Learn from History?," NBER Working Papers 2345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1995. "Does Inflation 'Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market'?," Working Papers 735, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Data," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1758, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Debt," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 155-208 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  7. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
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