IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Commodity Money and the Valuation of Trade




In a previous essay we modeled the enforcement of contract, and through it the provision of money and markets, as a production function within the society, the scale of which is optimized endogenously by labor allocation away from primary production of goods. Government and a central bank provided fiat money and enforced repayment of loans, giving fiat a predictable value in trade, and also rationalizing the allocation of labor to government service, in return for a fiat salary. Here, for comparison, we consider the same trade problem without government or fiat money, using instead a durable good (gold) as a commodity money between the time it is produced and the time it is removed by manufacture to yield utilitarian services. We compare the monetary value of the two money systems themselves, by introducing a natural money-metric social welfare function. Because labor allocation both to production and potentially to government of the economy is endogenous, the only constraint in the society is its population, so that the natural money-metric is labor. Money systems, whether fiat or commodity, are valued in units of the labor that would produce an equivalent utility gain among competitive equilibria, if it were added to the primary production capacity of the society.

Suggested Citation

  • Eric Smith & Martin Shubik, 2005. "Commodity Money and the Valuation of Trade," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1510, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1510

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Eric Smith & Martin Shubik, 2005. "Strategic freedom, constraint, and symmetry in one-period markets with cash and credit payment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 25(3), pages 513-551, April.
    2. Martin Shubik, 2000. "The Theory of Money," Working Papers 00-03-021, Santa Fe Institute.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Bureaucracy; Contract enforcement; Taxes; Money;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D5 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium
    • H5 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1510. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Matthew Regan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.