US pressure on China: Silver flows, deflation, and the 1934 Shanghai credit crunch
US pressure for Chinese currency appreciation in the face of a weakening dollar was initially resisted in the post-2003 period. No such option was available in the 1930s, however, when dollar weakness was accompanied by silver purchases that automatically drove up the value of China's old silver-based currency. New empirical evidence suggests a significant link between the policy-induced driving up of US silver prices and Chinese exchange rate appreciation and price deflation. Moreover, the reversal of the silver flow into Shanghai as large-scale US purchases began in 1934 appears to have been met by a credit crunch in that city--as evidenced by bank failures, and real estate and stock market declines. The silver flow from the interior to Shanghai had previously insulated the financial center from the credit shortages faced elsewhere in China after deflation first emerged in 1932-1933.
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