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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. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1996. "Models of currency crises with self-fulfilling features," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 1037-1047, April.
  2. Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "Are Bond-Financed Deficits Inflationary? A Ricardian Analysis," NBER Working Papers 0905, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. John H. Cochrane, 1999. "A Frictionless View of U.S. Inflation," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1998, volume 13, pages 323-421 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  8. Stephanie Schmitt-Grohe & Martin Uribe, 1997. "Price level determinacy and monetary policy under a balanced-budget requirement," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1997-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  9. 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.
  10. Bennett T. McCallum & Edward Nelson, 1997. "An Optimizing IS-LM Specification for Monetary Policy and Business Cycle Analysis," NBER Working Papers 5875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Thomas Willett & Edward Tower, 1970. "Currency areas and exchange-rate flexibility," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 105(1), pages 48-65, September.
  12. 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.
  13. Nancy Marion, 1999. "Some Parallels Between Currency and Banking Crises," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 473-490, November.
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  24. Egon Sohmen, 1957. "Demand Elasticities and the Foreign-Exchange Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 431.
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  28. Woodford, Michael, 1994. "Monetary Policy and Price Level Determinacy in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 345-80.
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