No Small Change

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More details on defining the criteria can be found in the post, Criteria for identifying small change projects. Once you have defined the criteria for each small change project, make sure it is documented and communicated to all interested parties. Every new request should be presented on a simple one page form that outlines the request and benefit. The form should contain enough detail in order that the request is clearly understood and that it can be evaluated to ensure that:.

No Small Change

This ensures that stakeholders do not try to get enhancements approved that should really be a much larger project. More fields can be added as required. However, as this is small change, a balance needs to be maintained on getting suffiicient information without creating a process that costs more than the enhancement.

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There needs to be a mechanism for reviewing and prioritisation of the requests. If there are many requests and competing priorities, a good method is to use a regular meeting that allows all requestors to present their enhancement and for a collective decision to be reached. The benefit of the approach is that it provides complete transparency and ensures that only worthy enhancements are approved.

The prioritisation meetings should be scheduled at a regular frequency based on demand i.


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There should be standing representatives who can make a decision for each area. Then those proposing enhancements can be invited as and when they have a request to present. There should be a clear process of the steps and timelines for submitting a request so that it can be considered at the meeting. This is important as it allows an initial review to ensure the request form is complete and for the details of the request to be shared with attendees ahead of the meeting. This helps to ensure sufficient time for the representatives to review.

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Each request should be listed on the agenda. Then each requestor should present their enhancement and the audience can ask questions. The aim at the end of each presentation is to reach agreement to approve, reject or defer. There is a choice on how the approval works. Either single step or two step process. This depends if the Assessment step is completed before the initial presentation. This is preferable as it means that the effort and cost can be taken into consideration as part of the review. The other approach is the first approval is that the enhancement makes sense so should be assessed.

Then it is presented for a approval when cost and efforts are known. If the price level exceeds the mint equivalent, the public has an incentive to melt coins, turning them back into silver.

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As long as the price level is less than its mint equivalent but greater than its mint price, a given coin will be neither melted nor minted. In effect, each denomination of coin has pairs of "silver points. The intermittent shortage theorem for small coins follows directly from this model. If income should start increasing, the penny-in-advance constraint can become binding, which is Sargent and Velde's definition of a shortage. A shortage, in turn, implies that the return on small-denomination coins must be less than that on large-denomination coins; that is, the exchange rate of small for large coins must be rising.

Otherwise, no one will want to hold the large-denomination coin. And a depreciating exchange rate can lead to a rising price level assuming that the small-denomination coin is the unit of account. Further, if small coins depreciate to the extent that they become worth more as a commodity than as a money, then they will be melted, aggravating the shortage. A government can eliminate the small-change shortage by debasing the small coins.

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Thus, according to Sargent and Velde's model, most debasements were benign governments' cure for this recurring problem, rather than avaricious governments' means to collect seigniorage. The first section of the book provides a general overview of the facts motivating the study and the theory that will be used to explain the facts. This is followed by a section of three extensively researched, but loosely connected, chapters. The first, Chapter 4, is a history of the evolution of the minting technologies that eventually mitigated the counterfeiting problem enough to allow for convertible token coins.

Chapters 5 and 6 are two engaging chapters that go through hundreds of years of the history of legal and economic thought on the value of metal coins. In these latter two chapters, Sargent and Velde trace the evolution of the valuation of coins through the Middle Ages in legal contracts.

The prevailing view in was that coins should be valued by their metal content. By this view had evolved to admit the theoretical and practical possibilities that coins could be valued by tale, that is, simply by count. The distinction is important in Sargent and Velde's theoretical model, which, like other models of Sargent and Smith Journal of Economic Theory , and Velde and Weber Journal of Political Economy , , assumes that coins exchange by tale and above their intrinsic value.

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The theory is confronted with the historical evidence in the third section of the book. This section is most impressive because the evidence covers several city-states and countries over a long historical period and consists of data on mint prices, mint equivalents, exchange rates between coins, prices and minting volumes. In general, Sargent and Velde find the evidence to be consistent with the theory. The section begins with the establishment of the relevant facts: Depreciations, debasements and the influx of foreign coins accompanied intermittent shortages of small-denomination coins.

For example, Chapter 8 demonstrates that small-change shortages were recurring in medieval England and France. Here the authors present anecdotal evidence from contemporary writers complaining of shortages. They support this evidence with examples of government interventions that are also evidence of small-change shortages.

These examples include restrictions on the import of foreign coins that had lower intrinsic content, prohibitions on the export of domestic small coins, the introduction of new, lower-valued coins England and requirements to mint small coins France. Presumably, a lack of price-level and exchange-rate data prevented Sargent and Velde from using these examples to test their theory. The next chapters look at the history of coinage in Italy and France to determine if it is consistent with the implications of their model once a shortage occurs. Chapter 9 discusses coinage evidence from Florence roughly over the period from to As predicted by the theory, piccioli and quattrini, the small-denomination coins, depreciate against the large-denomination silver and gold coins.

The largest part of the chapter is spent discussing the period from to , which includes the so-called Quattrini affair. This experience generally accords well with the predictions of the model. The price level and the exchange rate move together for most of the period. However, the authors note an exception. The upward movement in prices roughly between and precedes the movement of the exchange rate, rather than being coincident with it as the model would predict.

Chapter 10 discusses similar evidence for Venice for roughly the same period. As was the case in Florence, the piccioli depreciate against the large-denomination silver and gold coins as predicted by the theory. Unfortunately, the lack of price-level data prevents Sargent and Velde from testing this implication of their theory with data from Venice.

Chapter 11 discusses the shortage evidence for France in the 15th through the 17th centuries. The primary focus is on the s. Extensive evidence on the existence of small-change shortages is presented, and the authors show that small-denomination coins depreciated against large-denomination ones.


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  6. A disappointing aspect of this section is that the authors do not make greater use of the minting data they have. Data on mint bounds, prices and minting quantities are presented for both the Quattrini affair Florence and France. However, Sargent and Velde make no attempt to see if the minting data conform to the model's prediction that a coin should be minted whenever its mint price equals the price level.

    At least for Florence, our impression is that this prediction of the model would be borne out by the minting data. A solution to the small-change problem is the standard formula. It calls for eliminating the free minting of small-denomination coins. In their place, the government issues token coins small-denomination coins that have little or no intrinsic value that are convertible into something that has intrinsic value.

    Sargent and Velde argue that once their theory is understood, the standard formula solution is obvious. The convertibility of the token coins eliminates the penny-in-advance constraint that is the source of the big problem of small change. However, most countries only adopted the standard formula in the late s after centuries of trial and error.

    In the fourth section of the book, Sargent and Velde examine why it took "historical decision makers" so long to discover the standard formula solution. In particular, they investigate whether the delay was caused by the lack of a technology for making token coins that were difficult to counterfeit or whether it was caused by governments having to learn why money is valued.

    They conclude that both causes played a role in delaying the adoption of the standard formula. The heart of this section is the chapters that describe several experiments with small change. Sargent and Velde allege that these experiences provided historical decision makers with theory and evidence leading to the standard formula as the solution to the small-change problem.