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Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience

In: Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy

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  • Robert J. Shiller

    (Yale University)

Abstract

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, the 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 are solved by creating such indexed units of account. The author advocates creating such units in other countries, even countries with relatively low rates of inflation such as the United States, and argues that an alternative definition of the units, relating the units to measures of income, may also be advantageous. Ideally, such 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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Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Shiller, 2002. "Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Fernando Lefort & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Serie (ed.), Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 105-134 Central Bank of Chile.
  • Handle: RePEc:chb:bcchsb:v02c04pp105-134
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1997. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Chapters,in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 71-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
    3. Irving Fisher, 1913. "A Compensated Dollar," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 213-235.
    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. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Willard C. Fisher, 1913. "The Tabular Standard in Massachusetts History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 417-454.
    8. 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.
    9. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
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    1. More on Bitcoin and the conditions for a takeover of fiat money
      by Tony Yates in longandvariable on 2017-06-09 20:17:53

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    Cited by:

    1. Choi, Hyung Sun & Kwon, Ohik & Lee, Manjong, 2016. "Inflation, credit, and indexed unit of account," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 144-154.
    2. Robert J. Shiller, 2006. "Designing Indexed Units of Account," Chapters,in: Long-run Growth and Short-run Stabilization, chapter 11 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/11496 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Fernando Morra, 2014. "Moderando Inflaciones Moderadas," Department of Economics, Working Papers 106, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    5. Hovanov, Nikolai V. & Kolari, James W. & Sokolov, Mikhail V., 2004. "Computing currency invariant indices with an application to minimum variance currency baskets," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 28(8), pages 1481-1504, June.
    6. Rebeca Gomez Betancourt & Jérôme de Boyer des Roches, 2013. "Origins and developments of Irving Fisher's compensated dollar plan," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(2), pages 261-283, April.
    7. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10190 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Solange Berstein & Rómulo Chumacero, 2005. "Cuantificación de los Costos de los Limites de Inversión para los Fondos de Pensiones Chilenos," Working Papers 3, Superintendencia de Pensiones, revised Apr 2005.
    9. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2016. "From Chronic Inflation to Chronic Deflation: Focusing on Expectations and Liquidity Disarray Since WWII," NBER Working Papers 22535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Halabi, Claudia E. & Lastrapes, William D., 2003. "Estimating the liquidity effect in post-reform Chile: do inflationary expectations matter?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 813-833, November.
    11. repec:eee:ecolet:v:160:y:2017:i:c:p:59-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Isil Erol & Kanak Patel, 2004. "Housing Policy and Mortgage Finance in Turkey During the Late 1990s Inflationary Period," International Real Estate Review, Asian Real Estate Society, vol. 7(1), pages 98-120.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System

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