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Money as a Unit of Account

  • Matthias Doepke
  • Martin Schneider

We develop a theory that rationalizes the use of a dominant unit of account in an economy. Agents enter into non-contingent contracts with a variety of business partners. Trade unfolds sequentially in credit chains and is subject to random matching. By using a dominant unit of account, agents can lower their exposure to relative price risk, avoid costly default, and create more total surplus. We discuss conditions under which it is optimal to adopt circulating government paper as the dominant unit of account, and the optimal choice of "currency areas" when there is variation in the intensity of trade within and across regions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19537.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19537
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  1. Ricardo Lagos & Randall Wright, 2005. "A Unified Framework for Monetary Theory and Policy Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 463-484, June.
  2. Doepke, Matthias & Schneider, Martin, 2006. "Aggregate Implications of Wealth Redistribution: The Case of Inflation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5552, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Sims, Christopher A, 2001. "Fiscal Consequences for Mexico of Adopting the Dollar," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 597-616, May.
  4. Cooper, Russell, 1990. "Predetermined Wages and Prices and the Impact of Expansionary Government Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 205-14, April.
  5. Neumeyer, Pablo Andres, 1998. "Inflation-stabilization risk in economies with incomplete asset markets," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 371-391, November.
  6. Césaire A. Meh & José-Victor Rios-Rull & Yaz Terajima, 2008. "Aggregate and Welfare Effects of Redistribution of Wealth Under Inflation and Price-Level Targeting," Working Papers 08-31, Bank of Canada.
  7. 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.
  8. Bohn, Henning, 1988. "Why do we have nominal government debt?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 127-140, January.
  9. Paul A. Samuelson, 1958. "An Exact Consumption-Loan Model of Interest with or without the Social Contrivance of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 467.
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