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A model of bimetallism

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  • Francois R. Velde
  • Warren E. Weber

Abstract

Bimetallism has been the subject of considerable debate: Was it a viable monetary system? Was it a desirable system? In our model, the (exogenous and stochastic) amount of each metal can be split between monetary uses to satisfy a cash-in-advance constraint, and nonmonetary uses in which the stock of uncoined metal yields utility. The ratio of the monies in the cash-in-advance constraint is endogenous. Bimetallism is feasible: we find a continuum of steady states (in the certainty case) indexed by the constant exchange rate of the monies; we also prove existence for a range of fixed exchange rates in the stochastic version. Bimetallism does not appear desirable on a welfare basis: among steady states, we prove that welfare under monometallism is higher than under any bimetallic equilibrium. We compute welfare and the variance of the price level under a variety of regimes (bimetallism, monometallism with and without trade money) and find that bimetallism can significantly stabilize the price level, depending on the covariance between the shocks to the supplies of metals.

Suggested Citation

  • Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 1998. "A model of bimetallism," Working Papers 588, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedmwp:588
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen F. Quinn & William Roberds, 2005. "The big problem of large bills: the Bank of Amsterdam and the origins of central banking," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2005-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    2. George J. Hall & Thomas J. Sargent, 2015. "A History of U.S. Debt Limits," NBER Working Papers 21799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Redish, Angela & Weber, Warren E., 2011. "Coin Sizes And Payments In Commodity Money Systems," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(S1), pages 62-82, April.
    5. Newby, Elisa, 2012. "The suspension of the gold standard as sustainable monetary policy," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1498-1519.
    6. Jin, Gu & Zhu, Tao, 2019. "Debasements and Small Coins: An Untold Story of Commodity Money," MPRA Paper 93057, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Andre Varella Mollick, 2016. "Adoption of the Gold Standard and Real Exchange Rates in the Core and Periphery, 1870–1913," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 89-107, April.
    8. Antoine Martin, 2002. "Reconciling Bagehot with the Fed's response to Sept. 11," Research Working Paper RWP 02-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    9. Angela Redish & Warren E. Weber, 2011. "A model of commodity money with minting and melting," Staff Report 460, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    10. Diebolt, Claude & Parent, Antoine, 2008. "Bimetallism: The "rules of the game"," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 288-302, July.
    11. Bojanic, Antonio N., 2011. "Final Years of the Silver Standard in Mexico: Evidence of Purchasing Power Parity with The United States," MPRA Paper 45535, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Jul 2011.
    12. Elisa Newby, 2007. "Macroeconomic Implications of Gold Reserve Policy of the Bank of England during the Eighteenth Century," CDMA Working Paper Series 200708, Centre for Dynamic Macroeconomic Analysis.
    13. Peter Kugler, 2011. "Financial Market Integration in Late Medieval Europe: Results from a Threshold Error Correction Model for the Rhinegulden and Basle Pound 1365-1429," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 147(III), pages 337-352, September.
    14. Kahn, Charles M. & Roberds, William, 2009. "Why pay? An introduction to payments economics," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 1-23, January.
    15. Adam Brzezinski & Roberto Bonfatti & K. KıvançKaraman & Nuno Palma, 2020. "Monetary Capacity," Economics Series Working Papers 926, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    16. Adam Brzezinski & Yao Chen & Nuno Palma & Felix Ward, 2019. "The real effects of money supply shocks: Evidence from maritime disasters in the Spanish Empire," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1906, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    17. Fernholz, Ricardo T. & Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc, 2017. "Pulling up the tarnished anchor: The end of silver as a global unit of account," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 209-228.
    18. James Vladimir Torres, 2019. "Bullion and Monetary Flows in the Northern Andes: New Evidence and Insights, 1780-1800," Tiempo y Economía, Universidad de Bogotá Jorge Tadeo Lozano, vol. 6(1), pages 13-45, February.
    19. N. Palma, 2019. "The existence and persistence of liquidity effects: Evidence from a large-scale historical natural experiment," The School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 1904, Economics, The University of Manchester.

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    Keywords

    Bimetallism; Gold;

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