The economics of international monies is likely to be informative about the future of the euro. The authors summarize the history of international monies, from the gold solidus introduced in the fourth century to the present. They identify four common characteristics of these currencies: high unitary value; relatively low inflation rates; issuance by major economic and trading powers; and spontaneous, as opposed to planned, adoption. Recent theoretical literature supports the importance of the characteristics, while recent theories’ common implication of multiple equilibria supports the importance of spontaneous adoption as developed by Menger and Hayek.
JEL classification: E42, F33, N10
Key words: monetary history, international money, gold coinage
The authors thank Sven Arndt, Benjamin J. Cohen, and George von Furstenberg for comments on earlier drafts of this paper and Linda Mundy for editorial assistance. This paper is a revised version of Dwyer and Lothian (2003). The views expressed here are the authors’ and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the authors’ responsibility.
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