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International Money and Common Currencies in Historical Perspective


  • Gerald P. Dwyer

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta - Research Department)

  • James R. Lothian

    () (Fordham University - Graduate School of Business)


The authors review the history of international monies and the theory related to their adoption and use. There are four key characteristics of these currencies: high unitary value; relatively low inflation rates for long periods; issuance by major economic and trading powers; and spontaneous, as opposed to planned, adoption internationally. The economic theory of the demand for money provides support for the importance of these characteristics. The value of a unit is arbitrary for a fiat money, but the other characteristics are likely to be important for determining any fiat money that will be the international money in the future. If the euro continues to exist for the next half century or so and has a relatively stable value, the authors conclude that the euro is likely to be serious competition for the dollar as the international money.

Suggested Citation

  • Gerald P. Dwyer & James R. Lothian, 2003. "International Money and Common Currencies in Historical Perspective," CEIS Research Paper 9, Tor Vergata University, CEIS.
  • Handle: RePEc:rtv:ceisrp:9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barro, Robert J & Gordon, David B, 1983. "A Positive Theory of Monetary Policy in a Natural Rate Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(4), pages 589-610, August.
    2. Lopez, Robert Sabatino, 1951. "The Dollar of the Middle Ages," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(03), pages 209-234, June.
    3. Selgin, George A, 1994. "On Ensuring the Acceptability of a New Fiat Money," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 26(4), pages 808-826, November.
    4. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-954, August.
    5. Thomas Sargent & Noah Williams & Tao Zha, 2009. "The Conquest of South American Inflation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 211-256, April.
    6. Auernheimer, Leonardo, 1974. "The Honest Government's Guide to the Revenue from the Creation of Money," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 598-606, May/June.
    7. Arthur J. Rolnick & Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 1997. "The debasement puzzle: an essay on medieval monetary history," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 8-20.
    8. Anna J. Schwartz, 2001. "Assessing the Euro three years after its launch," The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Dec, pages 14-16.
    9. Darby, Michael R. & Lothian, James R. & Gandolfi, Arthur E. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1983. "The International Transmission of Inflation," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226136417.
    10. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-141, February.
    11. Kiminori Matsuyama & Nobuhiro Kiyotaki & Akihiko Matsui, 1993. "Toward a Theory of International Currency," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(2), pages 283-307.
    12. Michael D. Bordo, 1993. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: A Historical Overview," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 3-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lothian, James R., 2002. "The internationalization of money and finance and the globalization of financial markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 699-724, November.
    2. Chrysost Bangake & Aram Belhadj & Nabil Jedlane, 2007. "Towards Maghreb Monetary Unification: What does the Theory and History Tell Us?," Post-Print halshs-00366757, HAL.
    3. John Hawkins & Paul Masson, 2003. "Economic aspects of regional currency areas and the use of foreign currencies," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Regional currency areas and the use of foreign currencies, volume 17, pages 4-42 Bank for International Settlements.
    4. Gerald P. Dwyer Jr. & James R. Lothian, 2003. "The Economics of International Monies," International Finance 0311010, EconWPA.
    5. Juan Pi??eiro Chousa, & Artur Tamazian, & Davit N. Melikyan,, 2008. "MARKET RISK DYNAMICS AND COMPETITIVENESS AFTER THE EURO: Evidence from EMU Members," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp916, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.

    More about this item


    Euro; international money; fiat money; dollar; search theory;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative


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