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Irving Fisher and Price-Level Targeting in Austria: Was Silver the Answer?

  • Richard C.K. Burdekin
  • Kris James Mitchener
  • Marc D. Weidenmier

The question of price level versus inflation targeting remains controversial. Disagreement concerns, not so much the desirability of price stability, but rather the means of achieving it. Irving Fisher argued for a commodity dollar standard where the purchasing power of money was fixed by indexing it to a basket of commodities. We show that movements in the price of silver closely track the movements in overall prices during the classical gold standard era. The one-to-one relationship between paper and silver bonds suggests that a simple "silver rule" could have sufficed to fix the purchasing power of money.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17123.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Publication status: published as Richard C.K. Burdekin & Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2012. "Irving Fisher and Price‐Level Targeting in Austria: Was Silver the Answer?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44(4), pages 733-750, 06.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17123
Note: DAE ME
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  1. Burdekin, Richard C.K., 2008. "US pressure on China: Silver flows, deflation, and the 1934 Shanghai credit crunch," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 170-182, June.
  2. Dowd, Kevin, 1996. "The Analytics of Bimetallism," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 64(3), pages 281-97, September.
  3. Frederic Mishkin & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, 2002. "A Decade of Inflation Targeting in the World: What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Norman Loayza & Raimundo Soto & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Series Editor) (ed.), Inflation Targeting: Desing, Performance, Challenges, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 4, pages 171-220 Central Bank of Chile.
  4. George A. Kahn, 2009. "Beyond inflation targeting: should central banks target the price level?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q III, pages 35-64.
  5. Jonung, Lars, 1979. "Knut wicksell's norm of price stabilization and Swedish monetary policy in the 1930's," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 459-496, October.
  6. Sumner, Scott B, 1990. "The Forerunners of "New Monetary Economics" Proposals to Stabilize the Unit of Account," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 22(1), pages 109-18, February.
  7. Perez, Stephen J & Siegler, Mark V, 2003. " Inflationary Expectations and the Fisher Effect prior to World War I," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 35(6), pages 947-65, December.
  8. Marc Flandreau, 2001. "The Bank, the States, and the Market: an Austro-Hungarian Tale for Euroland, 1867-1914," Sciences Po publications n°43, Sciences Po.
  9. Berg, C. & Jonung, L., 1998. "Pioneering Price Level Targeting: The Swedish Experience 1931-1937," Papers 642, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  10. Vítor Gaspar & Frank Smets & David Vestin, 2007. "Is Time Ripe for Price Level Path Stability?," Working Papers w200719, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  11. Blattman, Christopher & Hwang, Jason & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2007. "Winners and losers in the commodity lottery: The impact of terms of trade growth and volatility in the Periphery 1870-1939," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 156-179, January.
  12. Flandreau, Marc & Komlos, John, 2005. "Target Zones in Theory and History: Credibility, Efficiency, and Policy Autonomy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5199, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Frieden, Jeffry A., 1997. "Monetary Populism in Nineteenth-Century America: An Open Economy Interpretation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 367-395, June.
  14. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521457385 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Alquist, Ron, 2010. "How important is liquidity risk for sovereign bond risk premia? Evidence from the London stock exchange," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 219-229, November.
  16. Robert A. Mundell, 2002. "The international monetary system: quo vadis," Discussion Papers 0102-34, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  17. Michael D. Bordo & Robert Dittmar & William T. Gavin, 2006. "Gold, fiat money and price stability," Working Papers 2003-014, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  18. John Komlos & Marc Flandreau, . "Core or Periphery? The Credibility of the Austro-Hungarian Currency, 1867-1913," Articles by John Komlos 4, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
  19. Jobst, Clemens, 2009. "Market leader: the Austro-Hungarian Bank and the making of foreign exchange intervention, 1896–1913," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(03), pages 287-318, December.
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