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Chronicles of a deflation unforetold

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  • Francois R. Velde

Abstract

Suppose the nominal money supply could be cut literally overnight by, say, 20%. What would happen to prices, wages, output? The answer can be found in 1720s France, where just such an experiment was carried out, repeatedly. Prices adjusted instantaneously and fully on one market only, that for foreign exchange. Prices on other markets (such as commodities) as well as prices of manufactured goods and industrial wages fell slowly, over many months, and not by the full amount of the nominal reduction. Coincidentally or not, the industrial sector (as represented by manufacturing of woolen cloths) experienced a contraction of 30%. When the government changed course and increased the nominal money supply overnight by 20%, prices responded much more, and the woolen industry rebounded.

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  • Francois R. Velde, 2006. "Chronicles of a deflation unforetold," Working Paper Series WP-06-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-12
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    Cited by:

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    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2010. "The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design Is Taking the Con out of Econometrics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 3-30, Spring.
    3. Brzezinski, Adam & Chen, Yao & Palma, Nuno Pedro G. & Ward, Felix, 2019. "The vagaries of the sea: evidence on the real effects of money from maritime disasters in the Spanish Empire," CEPR Discussion Papers 14089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Ramey, V.A., 2016. "Macroeconomic Shocks and Their Propagation," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 71-162, Elsevier.
    5. Jalil, Andrew J. & Rua, Gisela, 2016. "Inflation expectations and recovery in spring 1933," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 26-50.
    6. Young Sik Kim & Manjong Lee, 2013. "Separation of Unit of Account from Medium of Exchange," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(8), pages 1685-1703, December.
    7. Andrew Jalil & Gisela Rua, 2015. "Inflation Expectations and Recovery from the Depression in 1933: Evidence from the Narrative Record," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-29, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Bignon, Vincent & Flandreau, Marc, 2018. "The Other Way: A Narrative History of the Bank of France," CEPR Discussion Papers 13138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Radu Titus MARINESCU & Doina BUREA & Tudor SAMSON, 2017. "Aspects Of The Main Effects Of Inflation," Romanian Statistical Review Supplement, Romanian Statistical Review, vol. 65(6), pages 84-91, June.
    10. Margaret M. Jacobson & Christian Matthes & Todd B. Walker, 2022. "Inflation Measured Every Day Keeps Adverse Responses Away: Temporal Aggregation and Monetary Policy Transmission," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2022-054, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    11. Monnet, Eric & Velde, François R., 2020. "Money, Banking, and Old-School Historical Economics," CEPR Discussion Papers 15348, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Francois R. Velde, 2016. "What We Learn from a Sovereign Debt Restructuring in France in 1721," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue 5, pages 1-17.
    13. Davide Cantoni & Noam Yuchtman, 2020. "Historical Natural Experiments: Bridging Economics and Economic History," NBER Working Papers 26754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Gabriel Chodorow-Reich & Gita Gopinath & Prachi Mishra & Abhinav Narayanan, 2020. "Cash and the Economy: Evidence from India’s Demonetization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 135(1), pages 57-103.
    15. Leeper, E.M. & Leith, C., 2016. "Understanding Inflation as a Joint Monetary–Fiscal Phenomenon," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 2305-2415, Elsevier.
    16. Young Sik Kim & Manjong Lee, 2011. "Unit of Account, Medium of Exchange, and Prices," Discussion Paper Series 1104, Institute of Economic Research, Korea University.
    17. Campbell Leith & Eric Leeper, 2016. "Understanding Inflation as a Joint Monetary-Fiscal Phenomenon," Working Papers 2016_01, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    18. Homburg, Stefan, 2017. "A Study in Monetary Macroeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198807537, November.
    19. Pamfili Antipa & Christophe Chamley, 2019. "Regimes of Fiscal and Monetary Policy in England during the French Wars (1793-1821)," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-327, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    20. François R. Velde, 2018. "Neapolitan Banks in the Context of Early Modern Public Banks," Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance, in: Lilia Costabile & Larry Neal (ed.), Financial Innovation and Resilience, chapter 0, pages 201-241, Palgrave Macmillan.
    21. Francois R. Velde, 2017. "An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie française, 1680-1793," Working Paper Series WP-2017-24, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    22. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2017. "Identification in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 23968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Nuno Palma, 2019. "The Real Effects of Monetary Expansions: Evidence from a Large-Scale Historical Natural Experiment," Economics Discussion Paper Series 1904, Economics, The University of Manchester, revised Aug 2021.

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    Deflation (Finance); Prices;

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