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A model of commodity money, with applications to Gresham's law and the debasement puzzle

Author

Listed:
  • Francois R. Velde
  • Warren E. Weber
  • Randall Wright

Abstract

We develop a model of commodity money and use it to analyze the following two questions motivated by issues in monetary history: What are the conditions under which Gresham's Law holds? And, what are the mechanics of a debasement (lowering the metallic content of coins)? The model contains light and heavy coins, imperfect information, and prices determined via bilateral bargaining. There are equilibria with neither, both, or only one type of coin in circulation. When both circulate, coins may trade by weight or by tale. We discuss the extent to which Gresham's Law holds in the various cases. Following a debasement, the quantity of reminting depends on the incentives offered by the sovereign. Equilibria exist with positive seigniorage and a mixture of old and new coins in circulation.

Suggested Citation

  • Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber & Randall Wright, 1997. "A model of commodity money, with applications to Gresham's law and the debasement puzzle," Staff Report 215, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmsr:215
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Coinage; Gresham's law;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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