Tag Archives: Price level

The Value of Monetary Units, 1500–1914

K. Kıvanç Karaman, ¸Sevket Pamuk, Seçil Yıldırım-Karaman (2020), Money and monetary stability in Europe, 1300–1914, Journal of Monetary Economics (115).

At one extreme, the Dutch Republic depreciated its monetary unit by about 2.3 times, at the other, the Ottomans depreciated by about 25,000 times. These two numbers correspond to average annual depreciation rates of 0.2 and 2.5% respectively, with the other states falling in-between. … depreciations tended to be episodic. In particular, long periods of constant silver and gold value alternated with episodes of rapid depreciation in consecutive years. … There were also instances of one-off depreciations, but they were few, and at low rates. … monetary stability was not an elusive objective. Some states stabilized their monetary unit early. England did so by the mid-16th century, except for the fiat standard episode during the Napoleonic wars. Dutch Republic stabilized its monetary unit in the early 17th century, with very minor changes in the centuries that followed. France stabilized its monetary unit in 1795 following the fiat money experiment of the Revolution. In contrast to these western European states, in southern and eastern Europe, states continued to depreciate their monetary units until the end of the period.

Money Demand

In a recent NBER working paper, Luca Benati, Robert E. Lucas, Jr., Juan Pablo Nicolini, and Warren Weber report estimates of long-term money demand. They write:

[U]sing annual data on money (M1, for us), nominal GDP, and short term interest rates from 31 countries over periods that range in some cases to over 100 years. We find remarkable stability in long run money demand behavior in many countries, and an equally surprising sameness across different countries. In some cases of instability, anomalies have straightforward explanations.

Rethinking Inflation Targeting

In a Project Syndicate post, Axel Weber argues that inflation targeting needs to be rethought.

Within a complex and constantly evolving economy, a simplistic inflation-targeting framework will not stabilize the value of money. Only an equally complex and highly adaptable monetary-policy approach – one that emphasizes risk management and reliance on policymakers’ judgment, rather than a clear-cut formula – can do that. Such an approach would be less predictable and eliminate forward guidance, thereby discouraging excessive risk-taking and reducing moral hazard. … intermediate targets … could potentially be applied to credit, interest rates, exchange rates, asset and commodity prices, risk premiums, and/or intermediate-goods prices. … Short-term consumer-price stability does not guarantee economic, financial, or monetary stability.

“The Fiscal Myth of the Price Level,” QJE, 2004

Quarterly Journal of Economics 119(1), February 2004. PDF.

I examine the “fiscal theory of the price level” according to which “non-Ricardian” policy and predetermined nominal government debt fiscally determine prices. I argue that the non-Ricardian policy assumption and, by implication, fiscal price level determination are inconsistent with an equilibrium in which all asset holdings reflect optimal household choices. In such an equilibrium, policy must be Ricardian even if, in some states of nature, the government defaults or commits to an arbitrary real primary surplus sequence. I propose an alternative to the fiscal theory of the price level, based on nominal flows instead of nominal stocks. While this alternative framework establishes a consistent link between fiscal policy and the price level, it does not introduce inflationary fiscal effects beyond those suggested by Sargent and Wallace.