Institutional Failure, Monetary Scarcity, and the Depreciation of the Continental

Calomiris, Charles W.

The efforts of some American colonials, who complained of monetary scarcity and advocated increased government involvement in supplying paper money, were valid attempts to improve economic welfare and facilitate transactions. The potential for improvement depended crucially on the fiscal and monetary policies of colonial governments. This approach to monetary scarcity is useful for explaining variation in the real supply of money across colonies and over time. The role of fiscal and monetary policies in determining the changing value of the continental, and the consequences for real currency supply during and after the Revolution, are examined in detail.

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Journal of Economic History

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August 9, 2011