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

  • Guillermo A. Calvo

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18285.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18285
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  2. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters, in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
  3. Guillermo A. Calvo & Alejandro Izquierdo & Luis Fernando Mejía, 2008. "Systemic Sudden Stops: The Relevance of Balance-Sheet Effects and Financial Integration," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6747, Inter-American Development Bank.
  4. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
  5. Calvo, Guillermo, 2012. "Financial crises and liquidity shocks a bank-run perspective," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 317-326.
  6. John Kareken & Neil Wallace, 1981. "On the Indeterminacy of Equilibrium Exchange Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 96(2), pages 207-222.
  7. Maurice Obstfeld & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 1981. "Speculative hyperinflations in a maximizing models: can we rule them out?," International Finance Discussion Papers 195, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Jordi Gali & Tommaso Monacelli, 2002. "Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Volatility in a Small Open Economy," NBER Working Papers 8905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Gary Gorton & Andrew Metrick, 2009. "Securitized Banking and the Run on Repo," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2358, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Sep 2009.
  10. Ana Fostel & John Geanakoplos, 2011. "Tranching, CDS and Asset Prices: How Financial Innovation Can Cause Bubbles and Crashes," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000192, David K. Levine.
  11. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2006. "Monetary Policy Challenges in Emerging Markets: Sudden Stop, Liability Dollarization, and Lender of Last Resort," Research Department Publications 4504, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  12. Calvo, Guillermo & Coricelli, Fabrizio & Ottonello, Pablo, 2012. "The Labor Market Consequences of Financial Crises With or Without Inflation: Jobless and Wageless Recoveries," CEPR Discussion Papers 9218, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2000. "Fixing for Your Life," NBER Working Papers 8006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2005. "Emerging Capital Markets in Turmoil: Bad Luck or Bad Policy?," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262033348, December.
  15. Joshua Aizenman & Nancy Marion, 2009. "Using Inflation to Erode the U.S. Public Debt," NBER Working Papers 15562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Borio Claudio, 2011. "Implementing a Macroprudential Framework: Blending Boldness and Realism," Capitalism and Society, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-25, August.
  17. Guillermo A. Calvo & Fabrizio Coricelli & Pablo Ottonello, 2012. "Labor Market, Financial Crises and Inflation: Jobless and Wageless Recoveries," NBER Working Papers 18480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2004. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521633178, November.
  19. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Fear of Floating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 379-408.
  20. Carmen M. Reinhart & Vincent R. Reinhart, 2010. "After the Fall," NBER Working Papers 16334, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Guillermo A. Calvo & Alejandro Izquierdo & Ernesto Talvi, 2006. "Phoenix Miracles in Emerging Markets: Recovering without Credit from Systemic Financial Crises," Research Department Publications 4474, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  22. Martin Uribe, 1995. "Hysteresis in a simple model of currency substitution," International Finance Discussion Papers 509, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
  24. Gorton, Gary B., 2010. "Slapped by the Invisible Hand: The Panic of 2007," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199734153, December.
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  26. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1980. "Equilibrium in a Pure Currency Economy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(2), pages 203-20, April.
  27. Jeremy C. Stein, 2012. "Monetary Policy as Financial Stability Regulation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 57-95.
  28. Blejer, Mario I & Leiderman, Leonardo, 1980. "On the Real Effects of Inflation and Relative-Price Variability: Some Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(4), pages 539-44, November.
  29. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2007. "Interest Rate Rules, Inflation Stabilization, and Imperfect Credibility: The Small Open Economy Case," NBER Working Papers 13177, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Starr, Ross M, 1974. "The Price of Money in a Pure Exchange Monetary Economy with Taxation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 42(1), pages 45-54, January.
  31. Arvind Krishnamurthy & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2012. "The Aggregate Demand for Treasury Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(2), pages 233 - 267.
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