We study a microfounded search model of exchange in the laboratory. Using a within-subjects design, we consider exchange behavior with and without an intrinsically worthless token object. While these tokens have no redemption value, like fiat money they may foster greater exchange and welfare via the coordinating role of having prices of goods in terms of tokens. We find that welfare is indeed improved by the presence of tokens provided that the economy starts out with a supply of such tokens. In economies that operate for some time without tokens, the later surprise introduction of tokens does not serve to improve welfare. We also explore the impact of announced changes in the economy-wide stock of tokens (fiat money) on prices. Consistent with the quantity theory of money, we find that increases in the stock of money (tokens) have no real effects and mainly result in proportionate changes to prices. However, the same finding does not hold for decreases in the stock of money.
Duffy, J. and Puzzello, D. (2014), "Experimental Evidence on the Essentiality and Neutrality of Money in a Search Model", Experiments in Macroeconomics (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 17), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 259-311. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0193-230620140000017008
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