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Still tied by golden fetters: the global response to the US recession of 1937–1938


  • Urban, Scott
  • Straumann, Tobias


The US recession of 1937–8 is one of the deepest on record. Yet it did not produce a global depression – quite unlike 1930. According to the standard view, this reflected an unfettering of central banking after the collapse of the international gold standard circa 1931. We challenge this view. While Germany and a couple of Central and Eastern European countries were sheltered by binding exchange controls, most countries were still constrained by their golden fetters, as our new exchange rate regime classification suggests. The underlying policy regime was surprisingly similar to that of the 1929–30 downturn. What mattered was a quick reversal in US policy in 1938 and, for many countries, a more plentiful stock of international reserves.

Suggested Citation

  • Urban, Scott & Straumann, Tobias, 2012. "Still tied by golden fetters: the global response to the US recession of 1937–1938," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(01), pages 21-48, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:fihrev:v:19:y:2012:i:01:p:21-48_00

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    Cited by:

    1. Scott Urban, 2014. "Policy Options for the Euro: Heterodoxy Ahead," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 742-757, July.

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