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Theoretical Issues Pertaining to Monetary Unions

  • Bennett T. McCallum

The optimal currency area (OCA) concept is central to the economic analysis of monetary unions, as it clearly identifies the relevant optimizing tradeoff: extension of the area over which a single currency is used enhances allocative efficiency but reduces the possibility of tailoring monetary policy to the needs of different areas. Empirical work has verified the importance of various features of economies that make them strong or weak candidates for a common currency arrangement, but existing studies do not permit actual quantification of costs and benefits. Thus the OCA concept remains less than fully operational. A second relevant body of theory is that pertaining to currency crises. Formal models clarify various points concerning speculative attacks on fixed exchange rates, and show how abrupt reserve losses and depreciations can occur rationally at times when no major shocks are hitting the system. These models support the notion that a fixed (but adjustable) exchange- rate regime is not a viable option for most nations, given high mobility of financial capital. Also discussed is the recently- developed fiscal theory of price level determination, which if valid would have major implications for monetary-fiscal arrangements in currency unions. This theory does not contend that fiscal behavior drives an accommodative monetary authority, but rather that the price level roughly mimics the pattern of the government bond stock rather than base money when their paths differ drastically. An example is exposited in which there are two rational expectations solutions for an economy with a constant money supply: a traditional solution in which the price level is also constant and a fiscalist solution in which the price level and bond stock both explode as time passes. These solutions represent competing hypotheses about the behavior of actual economies; the paper suggests that the former is more likely to prevail in actuality.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7393.

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Date of creation: Oct 1999
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Publication status: published as Capie, F.H. and G.E. Wood. Monetary Unions: Theory, History, and Public Choice. London: Routledge, 2003.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7393
Note: EFG IFM ME
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  1. Matthew B. Canzoneri & Robert E. Cumby & Behzad T. Diba, 1998. "Is the Price Level Determined by the Needs of Fiscal Solvency?," NBER Working Papers 6471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. McCallum, Bennett T., 2001. "Indeterminacy, bubbles, and the fiscal theory of price level determination," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 19-30, February.
  3. Schmitt-Grohe, Stephanie & Uribe, Martin, 2000. "Price level determinacy and monetary policy under a balanced-budget requirement," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 211-246, February.
  4. Tamim Bayoumi and Barry Eichengreen., 1996. "Ever Closer to Heaven? An Optimum-Currency-Area Index for European Countries," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C96-078, University of California at Berkeley.
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  7. Bergin, Paul R., 2000. "Fiscal solvency and price level determination in a monetary union," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 37-53, February.
  8. McCallum, Bennett T & Nelson, Edward, 1999. "An Optimizing IS-LM Specification for Monetary Policy and Business Cycle Analysis," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 31(3), pages 296-316, August.
  9. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Hoshi, Takeo & Ito, Takatoshi & Rose, Andrew, 2006. "International Finance," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 455-458, December.
  10. Thomas J. Sargent & Neil Wallace, 1981. "Some unpleasant monetarist arithmetic," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall.
  11. Garber, Peter M. & Svensson, Lars E.O., 1995. "The operation and collapse of fixed exchange rate regimes," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 1865-1911 Elsevier.
  12. Maurice Obstfeld, 1995. "Models of Currency Crises with Self-Fulfilling Features," NBER Working Papers 5285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Salant, Stephen W & Henderson, Dale W, 1978. "Market Anticipations of Government Policies and the Price of Gold," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 627-48, August.
  14. Nancy Marion, 1999. "Some Parallels Between Currency and Banking Crises," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 473-490, November.
  15. McCallum, Bennett T, 1984. "Are Bond-Financed Deficits Inflationary? A Ricardian Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 123-35, February.
  16. Buiter, Willem H., 1998. "The Young Person's Guide to Neutrality, Price Level Indeterminacy, Interest Rate Pegs and Fiscal Theories of the Price Level," CEPR Discussion Papers 1799, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  25. Sims, Christopher A, 1994. "A Simple Model for Study of the Determination of the Price Level and the Interaction of Monetary and Fiscal Policy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 381-99.
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  27. Flood, Robert P. & Garber, Peter M., 1984. "Collapsing exchange-rate regimes : Some linear examples," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-13, August.
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