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Designing Indexed Units of Account


  • Robert J. Shiller


An indexed unit of account is a unit of measurement defined using an index such as a consumer price index so that prices defined in terms of these units will automatically adjust to changing economic conditions. Evidence on sticky prices and money illusion, and evidence from countries (notably Chile) that have created indexed units of account, suggests that creating such units is an important policy option for governments in countries with unstable price levels. A model is given that shows the dynamics of money prices when prices are expressed in the units. Results from the model suggest some design elements for an indexed unit of account: institutions to promote broad use of the unit for pricing, and a formal policy to increase the frequency of index computation when the price level becomes more volatile.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert J. Shiller, 1999. "Designing Indexed Units of Account," NBER Working Papers 7160, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7160
    Note: EFG ME

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Irving Fisher, 1913. "A Compensated Dollar," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 213-235.
    2. Shiller, Robert J & Schneider, Ryan, 1998. "Labor Income Indices Designed for Use in Contracts Promoting Income Risk Management," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 44(2), pages 163-182, June.
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    4. Robert J. Shiller, 1997. "Public Resistance to Indexation: A Puzzle," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 159-228.
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    8. Robert J. Shiller, 2002. "Indexed Units of Account: Theory and Assessment of Historical Experience," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series,in: Fernando Lefort & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel & Norman Loayza (Series Editor) & Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel (Serie (ed.), Indexation, Inflation and Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 4, pages 105-134 Central Bank of Chile.
    9. Robert E. Hall, 1982. "Explorations in the Gold Standard and Related Policies for Stabilizing the Dollar," NBER Chapters,in: Inflation: Causes and Effects, pages 111-122 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 161-193.
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    Cited by:

    1. Choi, Hyung Sun & Kwon, Ohik & Lee, Manjong, 2016. "Inflation, credit, and indexed unit of account," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 144-154.
    2. Olivier Blanchard, 2000. "What Do We Know about Macroeconomics that Fisher and Wicksell Did Not?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1375-1409.
    3. Jan Overgaard Olesen, "undated". "A Simple Explanation of Stock Price Behavior in the Long Run: Evidence for Denmark," EPRU Working Paper Series 00-09, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Edgardo Barandiarán, 2000. "Chile Después del Peso: Viviendo con el Dólar," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 37(110), pages 241-267.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System

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