The Continental Dollar: Initial Design, Ideal Performance, and the Credibility of Congressional Commitment
An alternative history of the Continental Dollar is constructed from the original resolutions passed by Congress. The Continental Dollar was a zero-interest bearer bond, not a fiat currency. The public could redeem it at face value in specie at fixed future dates. Being a zero-interest bearer bond, discounting must be separated from depreciation. Before 1779 there was no depreciation, only discounting. In 1779 and again in 1780 Congress passed ex post facto laws which altered the redemption dates of past Continental Dollars in ways that were not fiscally credible. These laws were the turning point. Depreciation and collapse followed.
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NBER Working Papers
13047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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