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Sovereign Risk, Credibility and the Gold Standard: 1870-1913 versus 1925-31

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  • Obstfeld, Maurice
  • Taylor, Alan M.

Abstract

What determines sovereign risk? We study the London bond market from the 1870s to the 1930s. Our findings support conventional wisdom concerning the low credibility of the interwar gold standard. Before 1914 gold standard adherence effectively signalled credibility and shaved up to 30 basis points from country borrowing spreads. In the 1920s, however, simply resuming prewar gold parities was insufficient to secure benefits. Countries that devalued before resumption were treated more favorably, and markets scrutinized other signals. Public debt and British Empire membership were important determinants of spreads after World War One, but not before.

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Paper provided by Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series with number qt6f15n0h0.

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Date of creation: 11 Jan 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ciders:qt6f15n0h0

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Keywords: Gold standard; sovereign risk; credibility; monetary regimes; exchange rates;

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  1. Peter L. Rousseau & Richard Sylla, 2001. "Financial Systems, Economic Growth, and Globalization," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0119, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  2. Matthew T. Jones and Maurice Obstfeld., 1997. "Saving, Investment, and Gold: A Reassessment of Historical Current Account Data," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C97-094, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Michael D. Bordo, 1995. "The Gold Standard as a `Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval'," NBER Working Papers 5340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  5. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, December.
  6. Michael Bordo & Michael Edelstein, 1999. "Was Adherence to the Gold Standard a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" During the Interwar Period?," NBER Working Papers 7186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Michael D. Bordo & Lars Jonung, 1996. "Monetary Regimes, Inflation And Monetary Reform: An Essay in Honor of Axel Leijonhufvud," Departmental Working Papers 199407, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  8. Michael D. Bordo & Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Introduction to "Globalization in Historical Perspective"," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Flandreau, Marc & Sussman, Nathan, 2004. "Old Sins: Exchange Rate Clauses and European Foreign Lending in the 19th Century," CEPR Discussion Papers 4248, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  11. Gregor W. Smith & R. Todd Smith, 1996. "Greenback-Gold Returns and Expectations of Resumption, 1862-1879," Working Papers 1255, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  12. Michael D. Bordo & Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Globalization in Historical Perspective," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord03-1, July.
  13. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2002. "Globalization and Capital Markets," NBER Working Papers 8846, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Paul R. Masson & Allan Drazen, 1994. "Credibility of Policies Versus Credibility of Policymakers," IMF Working Papers 94/49, International Monetary Fund.
  15. Bordo Michael D. & Kydland Finn E., 1995. "The Gold Standard As a Rule: An Essay in Exploration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 423-464, October.
  16. Christopher M. Meissner, 2002. "A New World Order: Explaining the Emergence of the Classical Gold Standard," NBER Working Papers 9233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Thomas J. Sargent, 1981. "Stopping moderate inflations: the methods of Poincaré and Thatcher," Working Papers 1, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  18. Hawke, G R, 1975. "Income Estimation from Monetary Data: Further Explorations," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 21(3), pages 301-07, September.
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