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International Money and Common Currencies in Historical Perspective

  • Gerald P. Dwyer Jr.

    (The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta)

  • James R. Lothian

    (Fordham University)

We 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, we conclude that the euro is likely to be serious competition for the dollar as the international money.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series International Finance with number 0311005.

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Length: 26 pages
Date of creation: 12 Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpif:0311005
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 26
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  1. Thomas Sargent & Noah Williams & Tao Zha, 2006. "The Conquest of South American Inflation," NBER Working Papers 12606, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Trejos, Alberto & Wright, Randall, 1995. "Search, Bargaining, Money, and Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(1), pages 118-41, February.
  3. 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, March.
  4. 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 808-26, November.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Anna J. Schwartz, 2001. "Assessing the Euro three years after its launch," The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Dec, pages 14-16.
  8. 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.
  9. Michael D. Bordo, 1992. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: An Historical Overview," NBER Working Papers 4033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Matsuyama, Kiminori & Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Matsui, Akihiko, 1993. "Toward a Theory of International Currency," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 283-307, April.
  12. Kiyotaki, Nobuhiro & Wright, Randall, 1989. "On Money as a Medium of Exchange," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 927-54, August.
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