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Is Numérairology the Future of Monetary Economics? Unbundling numéraire and medium of exchange through a virtual currency and a shadow exchange rate

The paper discusses some fundamental problems in monetary economics associated with the determination and role of the numéraire. The issues are introduced by formalising a proposal, attributed to Eisler, to remove the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates by unbundling the numéraire and medium of exchange/means of payment functions of money. The monetary authorities manage the exchange rate between the numéraire ('sterling') and the means of payment ('drachma'). The short nominal interest rate on sterling bonds can then be used to target stability for the sterling price level. The paper puts question marks behind two key bits of conventional wisdom in contemporary monetary economics. The first is the assumption that the monetary authorities define and determine the numéraire used in private transactions. The second is the proposition that price stability in terms of that numéraire is the appropriate objective of monetary policy. The paper also discusses the merits of the next step following the decoupling of the numéraire from the currency: doing away with currency altogether - the cashless economy. Because the unit of account plays such a central role in New-Keynesian models with nominal rigidities, monetary economics needs to devote more attention to numérairology - the study of the individual and collective choice processes that govern the adoption of a unit of account and its role in economic behaviour.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0776.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0776
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Buiter, Willem H & Jewitt, Ian, 1981. "Staggered Wage Setting with Real Wage Relativities: Variations on a Theme of Taylor," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 49(3), pages 211-28, September.
  2. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "Overcoming the zero bound on interest rate policy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 1007-1057.
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  5. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jun.
  6. Willem H. Buiter & Marcus H. Miller, 1983. "Costs and Benefits of an Anti-Inflationary Policy: Questions and Issues," NBER Working Papers 1252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Buiter, Willem H., 2004. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 4202, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Andrew C. Caplin & Daniel F. Spulber, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," NBER Working Papers 2311, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Willem H. Buiter, 2005. "New Developments in Monetary Economics: Two ghosts, Two Eccentricities, a Fallacy, a Mirage and a Mythos," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(502), pages C1-C31, 03.
  10. Willem Buiter & Anne Sibert, 2004. "Deflationary Bubbles," Birkbeck Working Papers in Economics and Finance 0409, Birkbeck, Department of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics.
  11. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1980. "Equilibrium in a Pure Currency Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(2), pages 203-20, April.
  12. Buiter, Willem H., 2006. "The elusive welfare economics of price stability as a monetary policy objective: why New Keynesian central bankers should validate core inflation," Working Paper Series 0609, European Central Bank.
  13. Dirk Niepelt, 2004. "The Fiscal Myth of the Price Level," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 276-299, February.
  14. Willem H. Buiter, 2002. "The Fiscal Theory Of The Price Level: A Critique," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 459-480, July.
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  16. Brock, William A, 1974. "Money and Growth: The Case of Long Run Perfect Foresight," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 15(3), pages 750-77, October.
  17. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  18. repec:nbr:nberre:0126 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Willem H. Buiter, 2003. "Overcoming the zero bound on nominal interest rates with negative interest on currency : Gesell's solution," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 848, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  20. M. Fase, 2005. "On Economics and Religion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 85-106, December.
  21. Robert Lucas & Mike Golosov, 2004. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," 2004 Meeting Papers 144, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  22. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1982. "Interest rates and currency prices in a two-country world," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 335-359.
  23. Willem H Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 2000. "Liquidity traps: how to avoid them and how to escape them," Bank of England working papers 111, Bank of England.
  24. Bennett T. McCallum, 2001. "Monetary policy analysis in models without money," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 145-164.
  25. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  26. Hicks, J. R., 1979. "Critical Essays in Monetary Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284239, March.
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