Working paper 220 was presented at The Economic Consequences of Government Deficits: an Economic Policy Conference, cosponsored by the Center for the Study of American Business and the Institute of Banking and Financial Markets at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, October 29-30, 1982.
We describe a simple environment in which assets of varying qualities may be used for transactions and consumption. The quality of an asset is known to the seller but not the buyer. We show that this feature can generate a negative relationship between the transactions velocities of assets and their rates of return. We also discuss several versions of Gresham's Law which hold in this environment.
Current approaches to monetary theory and policy owe much to the "quantity theory of money." However, recent theoretical developments suggest that the manner in which money is introduced is more important, even for price level movements, than the quantity of money. Colonial American experience provides a laboratory for discriminating between these views. It is shown here that the nature of backing, rather than the quantity of money, determined its value. Large secular inflations were ended by changing the nature of backing despite the continuance of large note issues (and despite the absence of a metallic standard). Extremely large note issues and note withdrawals are shown not to have produced inflation (currency depreciation) or deflation (currency appreciation).