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Debt enforcement and the return on money

  • Rojas Breu, Mariana

The rate-of-return-dominance puzzle asks why low-return assets, like fiat money, are used in actual economies given that risk-free higher-return assets are available. As long as this question remains unresolved, most conclusions from monetary models which arbitrarily restrict the marketability properties of alternative assets to make money valuable are difficult to assess. In this paper, I provide a framework in which Öat money has value in equilibrium, even though a higher-return asset is available and there are neither restrictions nor transaction costs in using it. I suggest that the use of money is associated with frictions underlying debt contracts. In an environment where full enforcement is not feasible, the actual rate of return on assets is determined by incentives eliciting voluntary debt repayment. I show that the inflation rate or, more generally, the depreciation rate of an asset in which debts are denominated may function as a commitment device. As a result, money is used in equilibrium and the optimal inflation rate is positive.

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Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/9608.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/9608
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  1. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-41, February.
  2. Lagos, Ricardo, 2010. "Asset prices and liquidity in an exchange economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(8), pages 913-930, November.
  3. S. Rao Aiyagari & Stephen D. Williamson, 1998. "Money and Dynamic Credit Arrangements with Private Information," Game Theory and Information 9802002, EconWPA.
  4. Díaz, Antonia & Perera-Tallo, Fernando, 2011. "Credit and inflation under borrowerʼs lack of commitment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 146(5), pages 1888-1914, September.
  5. Timothy J. Kehoe & David K. Levine, 1992. "Debt constrained asset markets," Working Papers 445, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  6. Zhu, Tao & Wallace, Neil, 2007. "Pairwise trade and coexistence of money and higher-return assets," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 524-535, March.
  7. S. Rao Aiyagari & Neil Wallace & Randall Wright, 1996. "Coexistence of money and interest-bearing securities," Working Papers 550, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  8. Aleksander Berentsen & Gabriele Camera & Christopher Waller, . "Money, Credit and Banking," IEW - Working Papers 219, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  9. Fernando Perera-Tallo & Antonia Diaz, 2007. "Credit and Inflation under Borrowers' Lack of Commitment," 2007 Meeting Papers 429, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Christian Hellwig & Guido Lorenzoni, 2009. "Bubbles and Self-Enforcing Debt," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1137-1164, 07.
  11. Hellwig, Martin F., 1993. "The challenge of monetary theory," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 215-242, April.
  12. Fernando Alvarez & Urban J. Jermann, 2000. "Efficiency, Equilibrium, and Asset Pricing with Risk of Default," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(4), pages 775-798, July.
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