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An Economy with Personal Currency: Theory and Experimental Evidence



Is personal currency issued by participants sufficient to operate an economy efficiently, with no outside or government money? Sahi and Yao (1989) and Sorin (1996) constructed a strategic market game to prove that this is possible. We conduct an experimental game in which each agent issues her personal IOUs, and a costless efficient clearinghouse adjusts the exchange rates among them so the markets always clear. The results suggest that if the information system and clearing are so good as to preclude moral hazard, any form of information asymmetry, and need for trust, the economy operates efficiently at any price level without government money. These conditions cannot reasonably be expected to hold in natural settings. In a second set of treatments when agents have the option of not delivering on their promises, a high enough penalty for non-delivery is necessary to ensure an efficient market; a lower penalty leads to inefficient, even collapsing, markets due to moral hazard.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Angerer & Juergen Huber & Martin Shubik & Shyam Sunder, 2007. "An Economy with Personal Currency: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1622, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Mar 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1622

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Juergen Huber & Martin Shubik & Shyam Sunder, 2008. "The Value of Fiat Money with an Outside Bank: An Experimental Game," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1675, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Apr 2010.
    2. Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2247-2257, December.
    3. Sorin, Sylvain, 1996. "Strategic Market Games with Exchange Rates," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 431-446, May.
    4. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos & Martin Shubik, 2003. "Is gold an efficient store of value?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 21(4), pages 767-782, June.
    5. Ronald Bosman & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Frans Winden, 2006. "Exploring group decision making in a power-to-take experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(1), pages 35-51, April.
    6. Huber, Juergen & Shubik, Martin & Sunder, Shyam, 2007. "Three Minimal Market Institutions: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Working Papers 27, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    7. Martin G. Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2005. "The Decision Maker Matters: Individual Versus Group Behaviour in Experimental Beauty-Contest Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 200-223, January.
    8. Herbert E. Scarf, 1959. "Some Examples of Global Instability of the Competitive Equilibrium," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 79, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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    10. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    11. Gode, Dhananjay K & Sunder, Shyam, 1993. "Allocative Efficiency of Markets with Zero-Intelligence Traders: Market as a Partial Substitute for Individual Rationality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 119-137, February.
    12. Ronald Bosman & Heike Hennig-Schmidt & Frans vanWinden, 2002. "Exploring Group Behavior in a Power-to-Take Video Experiment," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse7_2002, University of Bonn, Germany, revised May 2002.
    13. Francesco Feri & Bernd Irlenbusch & Matthias Sutter, 2010. "Efficiency Gains from Team-Based Coordination—Large-Scale Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1892-1912, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Quint & Martin Shubik, 2015. "The demonetization of gold: transactions and the change in control," Annals of Finance, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 109-149, February.
    2. Karim Jamal & Michael Maier & Shyam Sunder, 2017. "Simple Agents, Intelligent Markets," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 49(4), pages 653-675, April.
    3. Huber, Jürgen & Shubik, Martin & Sunder, Shyam, 2014. "Sufficiency of an outside bank and a default penalty to support the value of fiat money: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 317-337.
    4. Martin Shubik, 2016. "Three Essays on the Theory of Money and Financial Institutions Essay 2: The Exchange Economy, Money, and Markets," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 2055, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Martin Shubik, 2012. "Mathematical Institutional Economics," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1882, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    6. Shubik, Martin & Sudderth, William D., 2015. "From General Equilibrium to Schumpeter," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 269-282.
    7. Dmitry Levando, 2012. "A Survey Of Strategic Market Games," Economic Annals, Faculty of Economics, University of Belgrade, vol. 57(194), pages 63-106, July - Se.
    8. Karim Jamal & Michael Maier & Shyam Sunder, 2012. "Decoupling Markets and Individuals: Rational Expectations Equilibrium Outcomes from Information Dissemination among Boundedly-Rational Traders," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1868, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.

    More about this item


    Strategic market games; Government and individual money; Efficiency; Experimental gaming;

    JEL classification:

    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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