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The Price Theory of Money, Prospero's Liquidity Trap, and Sudden Stop: Back to Basics and Back

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  • Guillermo A. Calvo

Abstract

Fiat money contains the seeds of its own destruction. It has no intrinsic value and, yet, it can be exchanged for valuable consumption and production goods. As Hahn (1965) shows, this situation puts fiat money's market value or liquidity premium at the brink of collapse. In this paper I will argue that (1) sticky prices, especially when staggered, provide output backing to fiat money, helping to sustain fiat money's liquidity premium and, thus, lowering the risk of a liquidity meltdown. I call this view the Price Theory of Money; (2) fixed-income assets linked to fiat money, especially if they are perceived to have low counter-party risk (like US Treasury bills, AAA bonds or Asset-Backed Securities) can take advantage of point (1) to become quasi-moneys; (3) this gives incentives to the private sector to create those assets; (4) however, unless protected by a Lender of Last Resort, the new assets' liquidity premium can quickly and massively evaporate in what I call (with a wink to the Bard) a Prospero's Liquidity Trap; (5) the latter lowers the market value of loan collateral and clogs the credit channel, bringing about a credit event or Sudden Stop, with severe output and employment consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Guillermo A. Calvo, 2012. "The Price Theory of Money, Prospero's Liquidity Trap, and Sudden Stop: Back to Basics and Back," NBER Working Papers 18285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18285
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gita Gopinath & Jeremy C. Stein, 2018. "Banking, Trade, and the making of a Dominant Currency," NBER Working Papers 24485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Guillermo Calvo, 2013. "Puzzling over the Anatomy of Crises: Liquidity and the Veil of Finance," IMES Discussion Paper Series 13-E-09, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission

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