Resolving the national bank note paradox
During the 1882_1914 period, U.S. national banks could issue circulating notes backed by specified government securities. Earlier attempts to explain yields on those securities by costs of note issue discovered a paradox: yields were too high. We point out two previously ignored sources of costs: idle notes and note redemptions that were highly variable, thereby exacerbating the problem of managing reserves. We present data on idle notes and estimate, from partial data on redemptions, the uncertainty due to redemptions. We also present a semiannual time series of an upper bound on the average ...
Coin sizes and payments in commodity money systems
Contemporaries, and economic historians, have noted several features of medieval and early modern European monetary systems that are hard to analyze using models of centralized exchange. For example, contemporaries complained of recurrent shortages of small change and argued that an abundance/dearth of money had real effects on exchange. To confront these facts, we build a random matching monetary model with two indivisible coins with different intrinsic values. The model shows that small change shortages can exist in the sense that adding small coins to an economy with only large coins is ...
Explaining the demand for free bank notes
This paper explains why the risky notes of banks established during the Free Banking Era (1837?63) were demanded even when relatively safe specie (gold and silver coin) was an alternative. Free bank notes were demanded because they were priced to reflect the expected value of their backing. The empirical evidence supports this explanation. Specifically, in New York, Wisconsin, and Indiana the expected value of backing was sufficient for free bank notes to circulate at par, which they did. In Minnesota the backing for notes was very poor: they exchanged well below par, being treated as ...
Banknote exchange rate in the antebellum United States
The efficiency of private e-money-like systems: the U.S. experience with state bank notes
In the United States prior to 1863, each bank issued its own distinct notes. E-money shares many of the characteristics of these bank notes. This paper describes some lessons relevant to e-money from the U.S. experience with state bank notes. It examines historical evidence on how well the bank notes?a privately issued currency system with multiple issuers?functioned with respect to ease of transacting, counterfeiting, safety, overissuance, and par exchange. It finds that bank notes made transacting easier and were not subject to overissuance. However, counterfeiting of bank notes was ...
Will the new $100 bill decrease counterfeiting?
A current U.S. policy is to introduce a new style of currency that is harder to counterfeit, but not immediately to withdraw from circulation all of the old-style currency. This policy is analyzed in a random matching model of money, and its potential to decrease counterfeiting in the long run is shown. For various parameters of the model, three types of equilibria are found to occur. In only one does counterfeiting continue at its initial high level. In the other two, both genuine and counterfeit old-style money go out of circulation?immediately in one and gradually in the other. There are ...
Lessons from a laissez-faire payments system: the Suffolk Banking System (1825–1858)
The classic example of a privately created and well-functioning interbank payments system is the Suffolk Banking System that existed in New England between 1825 and 1858. This System, operated by the Suffolk Bank, was the first regionwide net-clearing system for bank notes in the United States. While it operated, notes of all New England banks circulated at par throughout the region. The achievements of the System have led some to conclude that unfettered competition in the provision of payments services can produce an efficient payments system. In this paper, we reexamine the history of the ...
Do sterilized interventions affect exchange rates?
International Evidence on Long-Run Money Demand
We explore the long-run demand for M1 based on a dataset comprising 38 countries and relatively long sample periods, extending in some cases to over a century. Overall, we find very strong evidence of a long-run relationship between the ratio of M1 to GDP and a short-term interest rate, in spite of a few failures. The standard log-log specification provides a very good characterization of the data, with the exception of periods featuring very low interest rate values. This is because such a specification implies that, as the short rate tends to zero, real money balances become arbitrarily ...