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International money and common currencies in historical perspective

  • Gerald P. Dwyer
  • James R. Lothian

The authors review the history of international monies and the theory related to their adoption and use. There are four key characteristics of these currencies: high unitary value; relatively low inflation rates for long periods; issuance by major economic and trading powers; and spontaneous, as opposed to planned, adoption internationally. The economic theory of the demand for money provides support for the importance of these characteristics. The value of a unit is arbitrary for a fiat money, but the other characteristics are likely to be important for determining any fiat money that will be the international money in the future. If the euro continues to exist for the next half century or so and has a relatively stable value, the authors conclude that the euro is likely to be serious competition for the dollar as the international money.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper with number 2002-7.

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Date of creation: 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2002-7
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  1. Michael D. Bordo, 1993. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: A Historical Overview," NBER Chapters, in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 3-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Rolnick, Arthur J. & Velde, François R. & Weber, Warren E., 1996. "The Debasement Puzzle: An Essay on Medieval Monetary History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(04), pages 789-808, December.
  4. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  5. Thomas Sargent & Noah Williams & Tao Zha, 2009. "The Conquest of South American Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 211-256, 04.
  6. Darby, Michael R. & Lothian, James R. & Gandolfi, Arthur E. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1983. "The International Transmission of Inflation," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226136417.
  7. Anna J. Schwartz, 2001. "Assessing the Euro three years after its launch," The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Dec, pages 14-16.
  8. Auernheimer, Leonardo, 1974. "The Honest Government's Guide to the Revenue from the Creation of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 598-606, May/June.
  9. Selgin, G., 1993. "On Ensuring the Acceptability of a New Fiat Money," Papers 368, Georgia - College of Business Administration, Department of Economics.
  10. Lopez, Robert Sabatino, 1951. "The Dollar of the Middle Ages," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 209-234, June.
  11. Kiminori Matsuyama & Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Akihiko Matsui, 1993. "Toward a Theory of International Currency," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 283-307.
  12. Robert J. Barro & David B. Gordon, 1981. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural-Rate Model," NBER Working Papers 0807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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