Roberto Bonfatti, Adam Brzezinski, K. Kıvanç Karaman, Nuno Palma, 27 September 2020

Monetary capacity refers to a state's capacity to circulate money that is accepted by the public, while fiscal capacity refers to its capacity to tax. This column argues that monetary and fiscal capacity and, by extension, markets and states have a symbiotic relationship. The long-run European evidence from antiquity to the modern period corroborates this mutual dependence, with money stocks and tax revenues moving in close synch. History also offers a natural experiment to estimate the causal effect of monetary capacity on fiscal capacity, with New World silver increasing money stocks and in turn tax revenues in a significant and substantial way.

Anthony Edo, Jacques Melitz, 10 November 2019

Economists mostly argue that the Great Inflation in renaissance Europe was caused by an inflow of silver. Historians counter that it was caused by population growth. The column uses long-run economic data to argue that the historians' position is credible for England's economy. On this evidence, both contributed equally to inflation during this period.

Jessica Baier, Jörg Baten, 19 November 2017

Studies have found that the occurrence of natural resources can increase the risk of civil war and interstate conflict. This column uses data from 50 countries beginning in 1890 to show that silver mining can also have substantial effects on interpersonal violence during peacetime. Across many different countries and periods, an economy's increasing dependence on silver has increased the homicide rate.

Ricardo Fernholz, Kris Mitchener, Marc Weidenmier, 18 May 2017

There has been speculation that the dollar may soon be displaced by the euro or renminbi as the primary international currency. This column examines the demise of silver-based monetary standards in the 19th century to explore price dynamics when a money ceases to function as a global unit of account. According to new data on the historical prices of agricultural commodities, silver ceased functioning as a global price anchor in the mid-1890s. Over the same period, the volatility of agricultural commodity prices also declined.

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