This paper argues that versions of Samuelson/Cass-Yaari overlapping-generations consumption-loans models ought to be taken seriously as models of fiat money. The case is made by summarizing and interpreting what these models have to say about fiat money and by arguing that these properties are robust in the sense that they can be expected to hold in any model of fiat money. Two of the properties establish the connection between, on the one hand, the existence of equilibria in which value is attached to a fixed stock of fiat money and, on the other hand, the optimality of such equilibria and the nonoptimality of nonfiat-money equilibria. Other properties describe aspects of the tenuousness of monetary equilibria in such models: The nonuniqueness of such equilibria in the sense that there always exists a nonfiat-money equilibrium and the dependence of the existence of the monetary equilibrium on the physical characteristics of other potential assets and on other institutional features like the tax-transfer scheme in effect. Rather than being defects of these models, it is argued that this tenuousness is helpful in interpreting various monetary systems and, in any case, is unavoidable; it will turn up in any good model of fiat money. Still other properties summarize what these models imply about the connection—or, better, lack of such— between fiat money and private borrowing and lending (financial intermediation) and what they imply about country-specific monies.
Game theory is both at the heart of economics and without a definitive solution. This paper proposes a solution. It is argued that a dominance criterion generates a, and perhaps the, generalized equilibrium solution for game theory. First we provide a set theoretic perspective from which to view game theory, and then present and discuss the proposed solution.
I prove some theorems for competitive equilibria in the presence of distortionary taxes and other restraints of trade, and use those theorems to motivate an algorithm for (exactly) computing and empirically evaluating competitive equilibria in dynamic economies. Although its economics is relatively sophisticated, the algorithm is so computationally economical that it can be implemented with a few lines in a spreadsheet. Although a competitive equilibrium models interactions between all sectors, all consumer types, and all time periods, I show how my algorithm permits separate empirical evaluation of these pieces of the model and hence is practical even when very little data is available. For similar reasons, these evaluations are not particularly sensitive to how data is partitioned into "trends" and "cycles." I then compute a real business cycle model with distortionary taxes that fits aggregate U.S. time series for the period 1929-50 and conclude that, if it is to explain aggregate behavior during the period, government policy must have heavily taxed labor income during the Great Depression and lightly taxed it during the war. In other words, the challenge for the competitive equilibrium approach is not so much why output might change over time, but why the marginal product of labor and the marginal value of leisure diverged so much and why that wedge persisted so long. In this sense, explaining aggregate behavior during the period has been reduced to a public finance question - were actual government policies distorting behavior in the same direction and magnitude as government policies in the model?