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The Historical Origins of U.S. Exchange Market Intervention Policy

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Owen Humpage
  • Anna J. Schwartz

Abstract

The present set of arrangements for U.S. exchange market intervention policy was largely developed after 1961 during the Bretton Woods era. However, that set had important historical precedents. In this paper we examine precedents to current arrangements, focusing on three historical eras: pre-1934 operations; the Exchange Stabilization Fund operations beginning in 1934; and the Bretton Woods era. We describe operations by the Second Bank of the United States in the pre-Civil War period and then operations by the U.S. Treasury in the post-Civil War period. After establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1914, the New York Fed engaged in isolated exchange market policies in the 1920s and 1930s, first under the direction of the Governor Benjamin Strong until his death in 1928, thereafter, under the direction of his successor, George Harrison. We then examine operations of the Exchange Stabilization Fund that the Gold Reserve Act of 1934 created as a Treasury Department agency. We exploit unique unpublished sources to analyze its dealings with the Banque de France and the Bank of England before and after the Tripartite Agreement. Finally, based on a unique data set of all U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve foreign-exchange transactions, we discuss U.S. efforts from 1961 through 1972 to defend the dollar's parity under the Bretton Woods system.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12662.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Publication status: published as Michael D. Bordo & Owen Humpage & Anna J. Schwartz, 2007. "The historical origins of US exchange market intervention policy," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(2), pages 109-132.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12662

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  1. Michael D. Bordo, 1992. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: An Historical Overview," NBER Working Papers 4033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Allan H. Meltzer, 1991. "U.S. policy in the Bretton Woods era," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 54-83.
  3. Schwartz, Anna J, 1997. "From Obscurity to Notoriety: A Biography of the Exchange Stabilization Fund," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(2), pages 135-53, May.
  4. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1999. "Under what circumstances, past and present, have international rescues of countries in financial distress been successful?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(4), pages 683-708, August.
  5. Leahy, Michael P, 1995. "The profitability of US intervention in the foreign exchange markets," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 823-844, December.
  6. Michael Bordo & Anna J. Schwartz, 2001. "From the Exchange Stabilization Fund to the International Monetary Fund," NBER Working Papers 8100, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. B. Dianne Pauls, 1990. "U.S. exchange rate policy: Bretton Woods to present," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Nov, pages 891-908.
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Cited by:
  1. Rockoff, Hugh & White, Eugene N., 2012. "Monetary Regimes and Policy on a Global Scale: The Oeuvre of Michael D. Bordo," MPRA Paper 49672, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised May 2013.
  2. Michael D. Bordo & Ronald MacDonald & Michael J. Oliver, 2009. "Sterling in crisis: 1964-1967," NBER Working Papers 14657, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Bordo, Michael D., 2012. "Could the United States have had a better central bank? An historical counterfactual speculation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 597-607.

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