The big problem of small change
Western Europe was plagued with currency shortages from the 14th century, at which a 'standard formula' had been devised to cure the problem. We use a cash-in-advance model of commodity money to define a currency shortage, show that they could develop and persist under commodity money regime, and analyze the role played by each ingredient in the standard formula. A companion paper documents the evolution of monetary theory, monetary experiments and minting technology over the course of six hundred years.
An Analysis of Revenues at the Comédie française, 1680-1793
I study the business practices of the Comdie franaise, the main theater in Paris, between 1680 and 1793. The theater was an actors? partnership and operated within a (contested) oligopoly. Newly available data provide revenues by price category for over 32,000 performances. Attendance varied considerably from one performance to the next. Total revenues increased in the second half of the 18th century as demand for entertainment in Paris boomed. The increase came in part from box rentals (by performance or by season). Pricing practices changed over time, as premium pricing for high-demand ...
What We Learn from a Sovereign Debt Restructuring in France in 1721
A debt is a promise to perform a certain action (make a payment) in the future. A default is a failure to perform the action when the time comes to do so. If performance of the action were always in my interest, the promise to perform it would be superfluous. When we promise to do something, it is precisely because we may well not want to do it. Debt usually takes the form of a contract, which courts can enforce. But sovereign debt (debt issued by governments) is harder to enforce, because governments aren?t easily constrained by courts. How can sovereign governments make promises and be ...
An alternative measure of inflation
The author proposes an alternative measure of inflation that captures the intuition behind the use of "core" measures. Inflation is modeled as an unobserved factor affecting the components of an aggregate price index (including food and energy). The common component, estimated using Kalman filtering, resembles usual measures of core inflation; its extrapolation can be used to improve performance in forecasting core inflation.
What’s a penny (or a nickel) really worth?
On December 14, 2006, the United States Mint announced new regulations to limit the melting and exportation of pennies and nickels. The goal is to prevent a shortage of small change in circulation. This article looks at the problem in historical context and suggests solutions.
The evolution of small change
Western Europe was plagued with currency shortages from the 14th to the 19th century, at which time a `standard formula' had been devised to cure the problem. We document the evolution of mon- etary theory, policy experiments and minting tech- nology over the course of six hundred years. In a companion paper, we use a cash-in-advance model of commodity money to provide an analytical frame- work for the problem of small change.
Poor hand or poor play? the rise and fall of inflation in the U.S.
Inflation in the U.S. rose in the 1970s and fell in the 1980s and 1990s. The conventional story attributes this pattern to changes in monetary policy. Policymakers made errors and learned from them. This article presents the story and existing alternatives that emphasize instead changes beyond the Fed's control. The author also reviews the recent empirical literature on the role played by changes in luck versus changes in policy and finds substantial evidence for both.
Dollarization in Argentina
A model of bimetallism
Bimetallism has been the subject of considerable debate: Was it a viable monetary system? Was it a desirable system? In our model, the (exogenous and stochastic) amount of each metal can be split between monetary uses to satisfy a cash-in-advance constraint, and nonmonetary uses in which the stock of uncoined metal yields utility. The ratio of the monies in the cash-in-advance constraint is endogenous. Bimetallism is feasible: we find a continuum of steady states (in the certainty case) indexed by the constant exchange rate of the monies; we also prove existence for a range of fixed exchange ...
What Happened to the US Economy During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic? A View Through High-Frequency Data
Burns and Mitchell (1946, 109) found a recession of "exceptional brevity and moderate amplitude." I confirm their judgment by examining a variety of high-frequency data. Industrial output fell sharply but rebounded within months. Retail seemed little affected and there is no evidence of increased business failures or stressed financial system. Cross-sectional data from the coal industry documents the short-lived impact of the epidemic on labor supply. The Armistice possibly prolonged the 1918 recession, short as it was, by injecting momentary uncertainty. Interventions to hinder the contagion ...