The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics

Monetary Union

Paul Bergin

When economists such as Robert Mundell were theorizing about optimal monetary unions in the middle of the twentieth century, most people regarded the exercise as largely hypothetical. But since many European countries established a monetary union at the end of the century, the theory of monetary unions has become much more relevant to many more people....

Forming a monetary union carries benefits and costs. One benefit is that merchants no longer need worry about unexpected movements in the exchange rate. Suppose a seller of computers in Germany must decide between buying from a supplier in the United States at a price set in dollars and a supplier in France with a price in euros, payment on delivery. Even if the U.S. supplier's price is lower once it is converted from dollars to euros at the going exchange rate, there is a risk that the dollar's value will rise before the time of payment, raising the cost of the computers in euros, and hence lowering the merchant's profits. Even if the merchant expects that the import price probably will be lower, he may decide it is not worth risking a mistake. A monetary union, like any fixed-exchange-rate regime, eliminates this risk. One effect is to promote international trade among members of the monetary union.


Agricultural Subsidy Programs

Daniel A. Sumner

Fiscal Sustainability

Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living

Clark Nardinelli

Standards of Living and Modern Economic Growth

John V. C. Nye

Public Choice

William F. Shughart II


George J. Borjas

Health Care

Michael A. Morrisey

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Elinor Ostrom


In 2009, Elinor Ostrom, along with Oliver E. Williamson, was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. Ostrom, the only woman to ever win the prize, received it "for her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons." She demonstrated "how local property can be successfully managed by local commons without any regulation by central authorities or privatization."...


Edmund Phelps


Edmund S. Phelps was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize in economic science "for his analysis of intertemporal tradeoffs in macroeconomic policy." He focused on two distinct areas of macroeconomics: the tradeoff between unemployment and inflation and capital accumulation and economic growth....