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Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience

  • Robert J. Shiller

An indexed unit of account is a money analogue, used to express prices; the unit's" purchasing power is defined by an index. Indexed units of account are not true money in that" they are not used as a medium of exchange. The first successful indexed unit of account Unidad de Fomento (UF) has been used in Chile since 1967, and has been copied in Colombia Ecuador, Mexico, and Uruguay. The reasons for creating such units are discussed from the" standpoint of monetary theory. The experience with such units in Chile is discussed. It is argued" that important practical problems in implementing indexation were solved by creating such" indexed units of account. The existing indexed units of accounts may not be ideal for all" purposes, however, and alternative definitions of the units, relating the units to measures of" income, may also be advantageous. The indexed units of account might someday be" monetized,' i.e., institutions such as debit cards may be devised to allow the units to be used for" all transactions, so that the role of conventional money might be reduced to clearing-house" functions only.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6356.

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Date of creation: Jan 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Chapter 4 in "Indexation, Inflation, and Monetary Policy," edited by Fernando Lefort and Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel, Volume 2 of the series "Banca Central, Análisis y Políticas Económicas" of the Central Bank of Chile, 2002, pp. 105-134
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6356
Note: ME
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  1. David Card & Dean Hyslop, 1996. "Does Inflation "Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market"?," NBER Working Papers 5538, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Debt," NBER Working Papers 5587, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Robert J. Barro, 2013. "Inflation and Economic Growth," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(1), pages 121-144, May.
  4. Michael D. Bordo & Anna J. Schwartz, 1987. "The ECU - An Imaginary or Embryonic Form of Money: What Can We Learn from History?," NBER Working Papers 2345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1996. "A Scorecard for Indexed Government Data," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1758, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  6. George A. Akerlof & William R. Dickens & George L. Perry, 1996. "The Macroeconomics of Low Inflation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 1-76.
  7. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817, August.
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