NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Macro-economic Management in an Electronic Credit/Financial System

Joseph E. Stiglitz

NBER Working Paper No. 23032
Issued in January 2017
NBER Program(s):   ME

Modern technology provides the basis of an efficient low-cost electronic payments as an alternative to the current system where fiat money is the medium of exchange. This paper explores possible macro-economic implication, showing how such a financial system might enhance government’s ability to control the level of aggregate demand. As in other arenas, in second-best situations with uncertainty, systems where there is an attempt to directly control quantities directly may perform better (e.g. have less volatility) than those using prices and other indirect control mechanisms. The paper identifies conditions under which in a system of electronic money, macroeconomic variability is lower when the level and direction of credit creation is directly controlled, through appropriately designed credit auctions, than in a system of indirect control of, say, investment via the interest rate. This is especially important since much macro-economic instability is associated with instability in credit creation and in the fraction allocated to newly produced goods and services. The paper also explains how, in an open economy, in a system of electronic money, credit auctions combined with trade chits might enable the control of net exports, again enhancing macro-stability. Finally, we explain how under a system of electronic money, the rents that are currently associated with credit creation and that arise from bank franchises—that constitute a form of appropriation of the returns from trust in the government and its ability and willingness to bail-out banks in the event of a crisis or bank run—could be appropriated by the government to a greater degree than at present.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23032

 
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