The Role of Overlapping-Generations Models in Monetary Economics

Bennett T. McCallum

NBER Working Paper No. 989 (Also Reprint No. r0463)
Issued in September 1982
NBER Program(s):   EFG

The main arguments of this paper can be summarized as follows. (1) The overlapping-generations (OG) structure provides a useful framework for the analysis of macroeconomic issues involving intertemporal allocation. (2) As a "model of money," the basic OG setup -- which excludes cash-in-advance or money-in-the-utility-function (MIUF) features -- is inadequate and misleading because it neglects the medium-of-exchange property that is the distinguishing characteristic of money. (3) That this neglect obtains is verified by noting that, in contrast with an axiomatic "traditional presumption," the same aggregate leisure/consumption bundles are available in equilibria in which "money" is valued and valueless. (4) That the model may be misleading is demonstrated by examples in which three of its most striking properties --tenuousness of monetary equilibrium, optimality of zero money growth, and price level invariance to open-market exchanges -- disappear in the presence of modifications designed to reflect the medium-of-exchange property. (5) There is no compelling reason why cash-in-advance, MIUF, or other appendages should not be used in conjunction with the OG framework.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w0989

Published: Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, edited by Karl Brunner and Allan H. Meltzer, Vol. 18, pp. 9-44, (Spring 1983). Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co. citation courtesy of

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