One of Paul Krugman’s favorite stories is about the baby-sitting co-op that almost collapsed when members started hoarding scrip; similarly, he says, a lot of economic activity can dry up when people start hoarding money. Last Tuesday, in a post called Nursery Tales, I observed that money-hoarding can’t retard economic activity (at least in anything like Krugman’s sense) unless something prevents prices from adjusting. So absent an auxiliary story about what that “something” is, I don’t find the baby-sitting story terribly helpful.
Several commenters responded that in the real world, prices and/or wages are “known” to be sticky (that is, slow to adjust), and thought that this rescues Krugman’s metaphor. I don’t agree. Here’s why: