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Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience

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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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d11b/d1171.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1171.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Feb 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in F. Lefort, K. Schmidt-Hebbel, and N. Loayza (eds.), Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy, Vol. 2, Central Bank of Chile, 2002, pp. 105-134
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1171
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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. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1996. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Working Papers 5538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Debt," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1125, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  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. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
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