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The Crime of 1873

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  • Friedman, Milton

Abstract

The U.S. Coinage Act of 1873 eliminated provision for the free coinage of silver. That act cast the die for a gold standard. The conventional view is that "the act of 1873 was a piece of good fortune." This paper indicates that it was the opposite--a mistake that had highly adverse consequences. This is a judgment about 1873, not 1896. By 1896, when William Jennings Bryan ran for president on a "free-silver ticket," it was too late to undo the damage. Bryan was trying to close the barn door after the horse had been stolen. Copyright 1990 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedman, Milton, 1990. "The Crime of 1873," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1159-1194, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:98:y:1990:i:6:p:1159-94
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christopher M. Meissner, 2015. "The Limits of Bimetallism," NBER Working Papers 20852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Flandreau, Marc R, 2002. ""Water Seeks a Level": Modeling Bimetallic Exchange Rates and the Bimetallic Band," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 491-519, May.
    3. Boyer, Russell S., 2009. "Reflections on Milton Friedman's contributions to open economy money/macro," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 1097-1116, November.
    4. Andre Varella Mollick, 2016. "Adoption of the Gold Standard and Real Exchange Rates in the Core and Periphery, 1870–1913," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 89-107, April.
    5. Flandreau, Marc & Oosterlinck, Kim, 2012. "Was the emergence of the international gold standard expected? Evidence from Indian Government securities," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(7), pages 649-669.
    6. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 1999. "Monetary policy regimes and economic performance: The historical record," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 3, pages 149-234 Elsevier.
    7. Francois R. Velde, 2002. "The crime of 1873: back to the scene," Working Paper Series WP-02-29, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    8. Michael D Bordo & Christopher M Meissner & Marc D Weidenmier, 2006. "Currency Mismatches, Default Risk, and Exchange Rate Depreciation: Evidence from the End of Bimetallism," WEF Working Papers 0010, ESRC World Economy and Finance Research Programme, Birkbeck, University of London.
    9. Bailey, Warren & Mao, Connie X. & Zhong, Rui, 2003. "Exchange rate regimes and stock return volatility: some evidence from Asia's silver era," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(5-6), pages 557-584.
    10. Oppers, Stefan Erik, 1996. "Was the worldwide shift to gold inevitable? An analysis of the end of bimetallism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 143-162, February.
    11. Francois R. Velde, 2002. "Following the yellow brick road: how the United States adopted the gold standard," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 42-58.
    12. Francois R. Velde & Warren E. Weber, 2000. "A Model of Bimetallism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1210-1234, December.
    13. Matthew T. Jones and Maurice Obstfeld., 1997. "Saving, Investment, and Gold: A Reassessment of Historical Current Account Data," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C97-094, University of California at Berkeley.
    14. Paul Hallwood, C. & MacDonald, Ronald & Marsh, Ian W., 2000. "Realignment expectations and the US dollar, 1890-1897: Was there a 'Peso problem'?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 605-620, December.
    15. William D. Craighead, 2010. "Across Time And Regimes: 212 Years Of The Us-Uk Real Exchange Rate," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(4), pages 951-964, October.
    16. Michael D. Bordo & Finn E. Kydland, 1990. "The Gold Standard as a Rule," NBER Working Papers 3367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Busse, Matthias & Hefeker, Carsten & Koopmann, Georg, 2006. "Between two poles: A dual currency board for Mercosur," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 349-362, December.
    18. Faust, Jon, 1996. "Whom can we trust to run the Fed? Theoretical support for the founders' views," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2-3), pages 267-283, April.
    19. Shachmurove, Yochanan, 2011. "A historical overview of financial crises in the United States," Global Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 217-231.
    20. Marie-Thérèse Boyer & Ghislain Deleplace & Lucien Gillard, 1992. "A la recherche d'un âge d'or des marchés financiers : intégration et efficience au XVIIIe siècle," Cahiers d'Économie Politique, Programme National Persée, vol. 20(1), pages 33-65.
    21. Francois R. Velde, 1998. "Lessons from the history of money," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 2-16.

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