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Implications of the Great Depression for the Development of the International Monetary System

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Barry Eichengreen

Abstract

In this paper we speculate about the evolution of the international monetary system in the last 2/3 of the 20th century absent the Great Depression but present the major post-Depression political and economic upheavals: WWII and II and the Cold War. We argue that without the Depression the gold-exchange standard of the 1920s would have persisted until the outbreak of WWI. It would have been suspended during the war and for a period of postwar reconstruction before being restored in the first half of the 1950s. The Bretton Woods Conference would not have taken place, and instead of a Bretton Woods System of pegged-but-adjustable exchange rates and restrictions on capital-account convertibility, an unreformed gold-exchange standard of pegged exchange rates and unlimited international capital mobility would have been restored. But this gold-exchange standard would have collapsed even earlier than actually was the case with Bretton Woods. The move toward floating exchange rates that followed would have taken place well before 1971 in our conterfactual We construct a model of the international monetary system from 1928-1971 and simulate its implications for the determination of the world price level and the durability of the hypothetical gold-exchange standard. We then examine, based on regressions for a 61-country panel, the implications for economic growth and resource allocation of allowing 1920s-style international capital mobility after World War II. Based on the implications of our model simula- tions and the capital controls regression we contemplate the implications for institution building and international cooperation of the `no Great Depression' scenario.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5883.

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Date of creation: Jan 1997
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Publication status: published as The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century. Bordo, Michael D., Claudia Goldin, and Eugene N. White,eds., Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998, pp. 403-453.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5883

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  1. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1982. "Can We Sterilize? Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(2), pages 45-50, May.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Vittorio Grilli & Gian Maria Milesi-Ferrett, 1993. "The Political Economy of Capital Controls," NBER Working Papers 4353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barry Eichengreen., 1993. "International Monetary Arrangements for the 21st Century," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-021, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Jacques J. Polak, 1991. "The Changing Nature of IMF Conditionality," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 41, OECD Publishing.
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  8. Kathryn M. Dominguez, 1992. "The Role of International Organizations in the Bretton Woods System," NBER Working Papers 3951, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Dani Rodrik, 1995. "Why is there Multilateral Lending?," NBER Working Papers 5160, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Bordo, Michael D & Choudhri, Ehsan U & Schwartz, Anna J, 1995. "Could Stable Money Have Averted the Great Contraction?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 484-505, July.
  11. Bernanke, Ben S, 1995. "The Macroeconomics of the Great Depression: A Comparative Approach," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 27(1), pages 1-28, February.
  12. Kouri, Pentti J K & Porter, Michael G, 1974. "International Capital Flows and Portfolio Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(3), pages 443-67, May/June.
  13. Bordo, Michael David & Ellson, Richard Wayne, 1985. "A model of the classical gold standard with depletion," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 109-120, July.
  14. Michael D. Bordo & Dominique Simard & Eugene White, 1996. "France and the Bretton Woods International Monetary System: 1960-1968," NBER Working Papers 4642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Cukierman, Alex & Webb, Steven B & Neyapti, Bilin, 1992. "Measuring the Independence of Central Banks and Its Effect on Policy Outcomes," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 6(3), pages 353-98, September.
  16. Michael D. Bordo, 1993. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: A Historical Overview," NBER Chapters, in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 3-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Allan H. Meltzer, 1991. "U.S. policy in the Bretton Woods era," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 54-83.
  18. Kenen,Peter B. & Papadia,Francesco & Saccomanni,Fabrizio (ed.), 1994. "The International Monetary System," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521467292, October.
  19. Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Getting Interventions Right: How South Korea and Taiwan Grew Rich," NBER Working Papers 4964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  21. Eichengreen, Barry, 1995. "Central bank co-operation and exchange rate commitments: the classical and interwar gold standards compared," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 99-117, October.
  22. 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.
  23. Choudhri, Ehsan U & Kochin, Levis A, 1980. "The Exchange Rate and the International Transmission of Business Cycle Disturbances: Some Evidence from the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(4), pages 565-74, November.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Barry Eichengreen, 2004. "Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods," Economie Internationale, CEPII research center, issue 100, pages 39-50.
  2. Barry Eichengreen., 1998. "International Economic Policy in the Wake of the Asian Crisis," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C98-102, University of California at Berkeley.
  3. Barry Eichengreen & David Leblang, 2003. "Capital account liberalization and growth: was Mr. Mahathir right?," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(3), pages 205-224.
  4. James M. Boughton, 2004. "The IMF and the force of History," IMF Working Papers 04/75, International Monetary Fund.
  5. Bordo, Michael D & Flandreau, Marc, 2001. "Core, Periphery, Exchange Rate Regimes and Globalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 3077, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Cohen, Joseph N & Linton, April, 2010. "The historical relationship between inflation and political rebellion, and what it might teach us about neoliberalism," MPRA Paper 22522, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Jonathan David Ostry & Jeromin Zettelmeyer, 2005. "Strengthening IMF Crisis Prevention," IMF Working Papers 05/206, International Monetary Fund.
  8. 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.
  9. Bordo, Michael D. & Choudhri, Ehsan U. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2002. "Was Expansionary Monetary Policy Feasible during the Great Contraction? An Examination of the Gold Standard Constraint," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 1-28, January.
  10. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1998. "The Rise and Fall of a Barbarous Relic: The Role of Gold in the International Monetary SYstem," NBER Working Papers 6436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Carlos Arteta & Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, 2001. "When Does Capital Account Liberalization Help More than It Hurts?," NBER Working Papers 8414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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