General competitive analysis is extended to cover a dynamic, pure-exchange economy with privately observed shocks to preferences. In the linear, infinite-dimensional space containing lotteries we establish the existence of optima, the existence of competitive equilibria, and that every competitive equilibrium is an optimum. An example illustrates that rationing and securities with contrived risk have an equilibrium interpretation.
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.
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).
Recent developments in monetary economics stress the nature of monetary injections, emphasizing that these have implications for the relationship between money and prices. In constrast, traditional approaches posit stable money demand functions that are independent of how money is injected. The former approach implies that certain proportionality relations between money and prices need not obtain. This permits the two approaches to be empirically distinguished, but only if an appropriate "experiment" is conducted. The colonial period is one such experiment. Colonial evidence suggests that the nature of injections is crucial to the effect on prices of changes in the money supply.