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Backing, the Quantity Theory, and the Transition to the U.S. Dollar, 1723-1850

  • Peter L. Rousseau

Among the thirteen original colonies, Pennsylvania was most successful at issuing paper money with only minimal effects on prices -- so much so that the colony's experience is sometimes seen as violating the classical quantity theory of money. Quantity theorists usually attribute this apparent anomaly to mismeasurement of the money stock. In contrast, I use data on money, prices, and real activity in Pennsylvania from 1723 to 1774 and for the United States as a whole from 1790 to 1850 (when the money stock is better measured) to show that the long-run behavior of money and prices is well explained by the quantity theory in both periods, despite the differences in institutional arrangements, once growth in monetized transactions is taken into account.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12835.

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Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Peter L. Rousseau, 2007. "Backing, the Quantity Theory, and the Transition to the US Dollar, 1723–1850," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 266-270, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12835
Note: DAE ME
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Bennett T. McCallum, 1990. "Money and Prices in Colonial America: A New Test of Competing Theories," NBER Working Papers 3383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-80, November.
  3. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1982. "The Real-Bills Doctrine versus the Quantity Theory: A Reconsideration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1212-36, December.
  4. Smith, Bruce D, 1985. "Some Colonial Evidence on Two Theories of Money: Maryland and the Carolinas," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1178-1211, December.
  5. Peter L. Rousseau & Richard Sylla, 2000. "Emerging Financial Markets and Early U.S. Growth," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1254, Econometric Society.
  6. Michener, Ronald, 1987. "Fixed exchange rates and the quantity theory in colonial America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 233-307, January.
  7. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1980. "Two Illustrations of the Quantity Theory of Money," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 1005-14, December.
  8. West, Robert Craig, 1978. "Money in the Colonial American Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, January.
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