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Author:Velde, Francois R. 

Bitcoin: a primer

Bitcoin is a digital currency that was launched in 2009, and it has attracted much attention recently. This article reviews the mechanics of the currency and offers some thoughts on its characteristics.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue Dec

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2017-24

Journal Article
The recession of 1937 - a cautionary tale

This article reviews the competing explanations offered for the recession of 1937, which interrupted the recovery from the Great Depression. One explanation, increases in labor costs due to the New Deal's industrial policies, fails to account for the full extent of the downturn and for the ensuing recovery. In contrast, monetary policy and fiscal policy seem to capture the downturn?although not its precise timing?and the recovery.
Economic Perspectives , Volume 33 , Issue Q IV

Journal Article
The debasement puzzle: an essay on medieval monetary history

This study establishes several facts about medieval monetary debasements: they were followed by unusually large minting volumes and by increased seigniorage; old and new coins circulated concurrently; and, at least some of the time, coins were valued by weight. These facts constitute a puzzle because debasements provide no additional inducements to bring coins to the mint. On theoretical and empirical grounds, the authors reject explanations based on by-tale circulation, nominal contracts, and sluggish price adjustment. They conclude that debasements pose a challenge to monetary economics. ...
Quarterly Review , Volume 21 , Issue Fall , Pages 8-20

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.
Chicago Fed Letter , Issue Feb

Americans are not saving: should we worry?

Chicago Fed Letter , Issue May

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-98-8

Working Paper
Money, Banking, and Old-School Historical Economics

We review developments in the history of money, banking, and financial intermediation over the last twenty years. We focus on studies of financial development, including the role of regulation and the history of central banking. We also review the literature of banking and financial crises. This area has been largely unaffected by the so-called new econometric methods that seek to prove causality in reduced form settings. We discuss why historical macroeconomics is less amenable to such methods, discuss the underlying concepts of causality, and emphasize that models remain the backbone of our ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-28

Working Paper
The life and times of Nicolas Dutot

Nicolas Dutot (1684?1741) is an important figure for the history of economic thought, as a pioneer in monetary theory and price statistics, and for economic history as a chronicler of John Law?s System. Yet until recently very little about him was known, some of it incorrect. I present extensive research that reveals a remarkable career rising from humble origins and full of surprises. He spent his formative years in the ranks of the ?ancienne finance? he was thought to despise, and then worked for the chamber of justice that he so decried in his writings, only to be sent to the Bastille for ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-09-10

Working Paper
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.
Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues , Paper WP-97-13


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