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Gold, fiat money and price stability

  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Robert Dittmar
  • William T. Gavin

The classical gold standard has long been associated with long-run price stability. But short-run price variability led critics of the gold standard to propose reforms that look much like modern versions of price-path targeting. This paper uses a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model to examine price dynamics under alternative policy regimes. In the model, an inflation target provides more short-run price stability than does the gold standard and, although it introduces a unit root into the price level, it leads to as much long-term price stability as does the gold standard for horizons shorter than 30 years. Relative to these regimes, Fisher's compensated dollar reduces price level and inflation uncertainty by an order of magnitude at all horizons.> The classical gold standard has long been associated with long-run price stability. But short-run price variability led critics of the gold standard to propose reforms that look much like modern versions of price-path targeting. This paper uses a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model to examine price dynamics under alternative policy regimes. In the model, an inflation target provides more short-run price stability than does the gold standard and, although it introduces a unit root into the price level, it leads to as much long-term price stability as does the gold standard for horizons shorter than 30 years. Relative to these regimes, Fisher's compensated dollar reduces price level and inflation uncertainty by an order of magnitude at all horizons.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2003-014.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2003-014
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  1. Neely, Christopher J & Roy, Amlan & Whiteman, Charles H, 2001. "Risk Aversion versus Intertemporal Substitution: A Case Study of Identification Failure in the Intertemporal Consumption Capital Asset Pricing Model," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 19(4), pages 395-403, October.
  2. Dittmar, Robert D. & Gavin, William T., 2005. "Inflation-targeting, price-path targeting and indeterminacy," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(3), pages 336-342, September.
  3. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 1990. "How Long Was the Workday in 1880?," NBER Historical Working Papers 0015, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bordo, Michael D. & Jonung, Lars, 2000. "A Return to the Convertibility Principle? Monetary And Fiscal Regimes in Historical Perspective," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 415, Stockholm School of Economics.
  5. Fujiki, Hiroshi, 2003. "A model of the Federal Reserve Act under the international gold standard system," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(6), pages 1333-1350, September.
  6. Christopher J. Erceg & Andrew T. Levin, 2001. "Imperfect credibility and inflation persistence," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. King, Robert G & Watson, Mark W, 1998. "The Solution of Singular Linear Difference Systems under Rational Expectations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1015-26, November.
  8. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1983. "A model of commodity money," Staff Report 85, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Milton Friedman, 1951. "Commodity-Reserve Currency," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59, pages 203.
  10. Bennett T. McCallum, 1997. "Issues in the Design of Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Working Papers 6016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Allan Meltzer & Saranna Robinson, 1989. "Stability Under the Gold Standard in Practice," NBER Chapters, in: Money, History, and International Finance: Essays in Honor of Anna J. Schwartz, pages 163-202 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1989. "Building Blocks of Market Clearing Business Cycle Models," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 247-302 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert Dittmar & William T. Gavin & Finn E. Kydland, 1999. "Price-level uncertainty and inflation targeting," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 23-34.
  14. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-72, June.
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