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Monetary Regime Transformation: The scramble to gold in the late nineteenth century

  • John Kemp
  • Ted Wilson
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    The late nineteenth century saw a movement among nation states which led to the widespread adoption of an international gold standard. So far, research has failed to demonstrate any specific qualities of gold that would explain its selection in preference to systems based upon silver or bimetallism. Neither has it proved possible to account for this choice in terms of any specific events in the historical record. The movement appears to have occurred almost without volition. In this paper it is suggested that the adoption of a 'socio-economic regime' such as the gold standard might be explainable by an approach similar to that put forward to explain 'technological' lock-in, where dominance can arise as a result of the culmination of a series of individual, small and perhaps unidentifiable accidents of history.

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    File URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/095382599107084
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    Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Review of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 11 (1999)
    Issue (Month): 2 ()
    Pages: 125-149

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    Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:11:y:1999:i:2:p:125-149
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    1. Redish, Angela, 1990. "The Evolution of the Gold Standard in England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(04), pages 789-805, December.
    2. Cowan, Robin, 1990. "Nuclear Power Reactors: A Study in Technological Lock-in," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(03), pages 541-567, September.
    3. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-37, May.
    4. Cowan, Robin, 1991. "Tortoises and Hares: Choice among Technologies of Unknown Merit," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(407), pages 801-14, July.
    5. Cowan, Robin & Gunby, Philip, 1996. "Sprayed to Death: Path Dependence, Lock-In and Pest Control Strategies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 521-42, May.
    6. Richard R. Nelson, 1995. "Recent Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 48-90, March.
    7. S. J. Liebowitz & Stephen E. Margolis, 1994. "Network Externality: An Uncommon Tragedy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 133-150, Spring.
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