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Foreign Demand for Domestic Currency and the Optimal Rate of Inflation


  • Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie
  • Uribe, Martín


More than half of U.S. currency circulates abroad. As a result, much of the seignorage income of the United States is generated outside of its borders. In this paper we characterize the Ramsey-optimal rate of inflation in an economy with a foreign demand for its currency. In the absence of such demand, the model implies that the Friedman rule---deflation at the real rate of interest---maximizes the utility of the representative domestic consumer. We show analytically that once a foreign demand for domestic currency is taken into account, the Friedman rule ceases to be Ramsey optimal. Calibrated versions of the model that match the range of empirical estimates of the size of foreign demand for U.S. currency deliver Ramsey optimal rates of inflation between 2 and 10 percent per year. The domestically benevolent government finds it optimal to impose an inflation tax as a way to extract resources from the rest of the world in the form of seignorage revenue.

Suggested Citation

  • Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2009. "Foreign Demand for Domestic Currency and the Optimal Rate of Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7549, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7549

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 2004. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy under sticky prices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 198-230, February.
    2. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 2004. "Optimal fiscal and monetary policy under imperfect competition," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 183-209, June.
    3. Richard D. Porter & Ruth Judson, 1996. "The location of U.S. currency: how much is abroad?," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Oct, pages 883-903.
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    Cited by:

    1. Calza Alessandro & Zaghini Andrea, 2011. "Welfare Costs of Inflation and the Circulation of U.S. Currency Abroad," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 11(1), pages 1-21, May.
    2. Schmitt-Grohé, Stephanie & Uribe, Martín, 2010. "The Optimal Rate of Inflation," Handbook of Monetary Economics,in: Benjamin M. Friedman & Michael Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 13, pages 653-722 Elsevier.
    3. Maria Socorro Gochoco-Bautista, 2009. "Global Crises and Reform of the International Monetary System," UP School of Economics Discussion Papers 200914, University of the Philippines School of Economics.

    More about this item


    Foreign demand for Currency; Friedman Rule; Optimal Inflation Rate;

    JEL classification:

    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money

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