The Ecu - an Imaginary or Embryonic Form of Money: What Can We Learn from History?

33 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2007

See all articles by Michael D. Bordo

Michael D. Bordo

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Anna J. Schwartz

City University of New York (CUNY); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

Date Written: August 1987

Abstract

We present historical examples of new forms of money that can be com- pared with the ECU. We first define the ECU in its official role before turning to developments in the private market for ECUs. We then examine historical antecedents of three attributes of ECUs: a unit of account; a basket of currencies; a basis for monetary integration. We discuss which features if any of ECUs are unique, and the contribution of the historical analysis to assessing the future of ECUs. We then ask whether governments or markets have been dominant in the emergence of new forms of money. Whatever emerges as money in an economy becomes the general means of payment. Prices of commodities, services, and bonds are expressed in units of the money. Buyers use the money to purchase goods or bonds and sellers receive the money is exchange for goods or bonds. We conclude that, at this stage in its history, the ECU at best is an embryonic form of money, closer to historical imaginary monies than to existing currencies that the world has known.

Suggested Citation

Bordo, Michael D. and Schwartz, Anna J., The Ecu - an Imaginary or Embryonic Form of Money: What Can We Learn from History? (August 1987). NBER Working Paper No. w2345. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=976158

Michael D. Bordo (Contact Author)

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics ( email )

New Brunswick, NJ
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Anna J. Schwartz

City University of New York (CUNY) ( email )

17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) - NY Office

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States
212-817-7957 (Phone)

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