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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

  • Buiter, Willem H.

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 C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6099.

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Date of creation: Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6099
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  1. Caplin, Andrew S & Spulber, Daniel F, 1987. "Menu Costs and the Neutrality of Money," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 703-25, November.
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  3. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "Overcoming the zero bound on interest rate policy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 1007-1057.
  4. 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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  7. Caplin, Andrew & Leahy, John, 1991. "State-Dependent Pricing and the Dynamics of Money and Output," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(3), pages 683-708, August.
  8. Mikhail Golosov & Robert E. Lucas Jr., 2007. "Menu Costs and Phillips Curves," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 171-199.
  9. Michael Woodford, 2001. "Fiscal Requirements for Price Stability," NBER Working Papers 8072, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Bennett T. McCallum, 2001. "Monetary Policy Analysis in Models Without Money," NBER Working Papers 8174, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Willem H. Buiter, 2003. "Helicopter Money: Irredeemable Fiat Money and the Liquidity Trap," NBER Working Papers 10163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2001. "Nominal rigidities and the dynamic effects of a shock to monetary policy," Working Paper Series WP-01-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. 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.
  16. Taylor, John B, 1980. "Aggregate Dynamics and Staggered Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(1), pages 1-23, February.
  17. 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.
  18. Willem H. Buiter & Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, 1999. "Liquidity Traps: How to Avoid Them and How to Escape Them," NBER Working Papers 7245, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1980. "Equilibrium in a Pure Currency Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(2), pages 203-20, April.
  20. Dirk Niepelt, 2004. "The Fiscal Myth of the Price Level," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 276-299, February.
  21. 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.
  22. M. Fase, 2005. "On Economics and Religion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 85-106, December.
  23. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 2001. "Optimal Monetary Policy in Open versus Closed Economies: An Integrated Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 248-252, May.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Hicks, J. R., 1979. "Critical Essays in Monetary Theory," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198284239, March.
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