Quarterly Review 2531

Dollarization and the Conquest of Hyperinflation in Divided Societies

Hubert Kempf
Russell Cooper

Summer 2001

This study argues that the delegation of monetary policy control by one country to another can reduce inflation in the delegating country. Hyperinflation is common in a divided society, one in which special interest groups can pressure a weak central government to issue money to finance their own demands while neglecting the country’s overall welfare. A commitment device like dollarization or a currency board, which gives control of the divided country’s money supply to another country, can eliminate this inflation bias. This is illustrated by Argentina’s experience with inflation and a currency board which, in effect, gave control of Argentina’s money supply to the United States. This argument is made precise using a two-country overlapping generations model to study the effects of delegation. The study also finds that a dollarization treaty between the two countries can be welfare-improving for both.

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