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

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  • Peter L. Rousseau

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter L. Rousseau, 2007. "Backing, the Quantity Theory, and the Transition to the U.S. Dollar, 1723-1850," NBER Working Papers 12835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12835
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    1. McCallum, Bennett T, 1992. "Money and Prices in Colonial America: A New Test of Competing Theories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 143-161, February.
    2. Rousseau, Peter L. & Sylla, Richard, 2005. "Emerging financial markets and early US growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, January.
    3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1980. "Two Illustrations of the Quantity Theory of Money," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 1005-1014, December.
    4. West, Robert Craig, 1978. "Money in the Colonial American Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 16(1), pages 1-15, January.
    5. 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.
    6. 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 1212-1236, December.
    7. Johansen, Soren, 1991. "Estimation and Hypothesis Testing of Cointegration Vectors in Gaussian Vector Autoregressive Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(6), pages 1551-1580, November.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rousseau, Peter L. & Stroup, Caleb, 2011. "Monetization and growth in colonial New England, 1703–1749," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 600-613.
    2. Peter L. Rousseau, 2010. "Monetary Policy and the Dollar," NBER Chapters,in: Founding Choices: American Economic Policy in the 1790s, pages 121-149 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cory Cutsail & Farley Grubb, 2017. "The Paper Money of Colonial North Carolina, 1712-1774," NBER Working Papers 23783, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Farley Grubb, 2012. "Is Paper Money Just Paper Money? Experimentation and Variation in the Paper Monies Issued by the American Colonies from 1690 to 1775," NBER Working Papers 17997, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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