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The Unloved Dollar Standard: From Bretton Woods to the Rise of China

Author

Listed:
  • McKinnon, Ronald I.

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

The world dollar standard is an accident of history that greatly facilitates international trade and exchange-even trade not directly involving the United States. Since 1945, the dollar has been the key currency for clearing international payments among banks including interventions by governments to set exchange rates, the dominant currency for invoicing trade in primary commodities, and the principal currency in official exchange reserves. Although the strong network effects of the dollar standard greatly increases the financial efficiency of multilateral trade, nobody loves it. Erratic U.S. monetary and exchange rate policies have continually made foreigners unhappy. A weak and falling dollar led to the worldwide price inflations of the 1970s and contributed to the disastrous asset bubbles and global credit crisis of the noughties -- including the global credit crunch of 2008-09. Dollar weakness aggravated the postwar world's three great oil shocks in 1973, 1979, and 2007-08. After 2008, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank's policy of keeping short-term interest rates near zero and out of alignment with emerging markets on the dollar standard's periphery, makes the international monetary system vulnerable to 'carry' trades: hot money inflows into the periphery that cause a loss of monetary control, commodity bubbles, and worldwide inflation . When these carry-trade bubbles suddenly unwind, they can result in huge swings in exchange rates and credit crunches. The asymmetrical nature of the dollar standard also makes many Americans unhappy because they cannot control their own exchange rate. Under the rules of the dollar standard game as explained in chapters 2 and 3 of this book, foreign governments may opt to set their exchange rates against the dollar while, to prevent conflict, the U.S. government typically does not intervene. Nevertheless, Americans often complain about how foreigners set their dollar exchange rates unfairly. Japan bashing in the late 1970s to the mid-1990s over the alleged under valuation of the yen, and China bashing in the new millennium over the alleged undervaluation of the renminbi, are two cases in point. Thus, while nobody loves the dollar standard, the revealed preference of both governments and private participants in the foreign exchange markets since 1945 is to continue to use it. As the principal monetary mechanism ensuring that international trade remains robustly multilateral rather than narrowly bilateral, it is a remarkable survivor that is too valuable to lose and too difficult to replace. This book provides historical and analytical perspectives on the different phases of the postwar dollar standard in order to better understand its resilience in spite of the great volatility in today's global monetary system. Available in OSO: http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/public/content/economicsfinance/9780199937004/toc.html

Suggested Citation

  • McKinnon, Ronald I., 2013. "The Unloved Dollar Standard: From Bretton Woods to the Rise of China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199937004.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780199937004
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gunther Schnabl & Kristina Spantig, 2016. "(De)Stabilizing Exchange Rate Strategies In East Asian Monetary And Economic Integration," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 61(02), pages 1-24, June.
    2. Andreas Hoffmann & Gunther Schnabl, 2014. "Monetary Policies of Large Industrialised Countries, Emerging Market Credit Cycles and Feedback Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 4723, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Rogoff, Kenneth S. & Tashiro, Takeshi, 2015. "Japan’s exorbitant privilege," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 43-61.
    4. Ronald McKinnon, 2013. "Hot Money Flows, Commodity Price Cycles and Financial Repression in the USA and China: The Consequences of Near-zero US Interest Rates," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 21(4), pages 1-13, July.
    5. Cohen, Benjamin J., 2015. "The Demise of the Dollar?," Revue de la Régulation - Capitalisme, institutions, pouvoirs, Association Recherche et Régulation, vol. 18.
    6. Campos Dias de Sousa, Ricardo Emanuel & Howden, David, 2015. "The Efficient Market Conjecture," MPRA Paper 79792, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Chee-Heong Quah, 2016. "A Diagnostic on the West African Monetary Union," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 84(1), pages 129-148, March.
    8. repec:kap:iecepo:v:15:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10368-017-0403-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Guillermo A. Calvo, 2016. "From Chronic Inflation to Chronic Deflation: Focusing on Expectations and Liquidity Disarray Since WWII," NBER Working Papers 22535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. C. Randall Henning, 2012. "Choice and Coercion in East Asian Exchange Rate Regimes," Working Paper Series WP12-15, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    11. Ronald McKinnon & Zhao Liu, 2013. "Zero Interest Rates in the United States Provoke World Monetary Instability and Constrict the US Economy," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 49-56, February.
    12. repec:hrv:faseco:34299169 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Vithessonthi, Chaiporn & Tongurai, Jittima, 2014. "The spillover effects of unremunerated reserve requirements: Evidence from Thailand," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 338-351.
    14. Hoffmann, Andreas & Schnabl, Gunther, 2016. "Monetary policies of industrial countries, emerging market credit cycles and feedback effects," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 855-873.
    15. Sophia Latsos & Gunther Schnabl, 2018. "Net foreign asset positions and appreciation expectations on the Swiss franc and the Japanese Yen," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 261-280, April.
    16. Huang, Anni & Kishor, N. Kundan, 2017. "The Rise of Dollar Credit in Emerging Market Economies and US Monetary Policy," MPRA Paper 83474, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Pierre Siklos, 2018. "Boom-and-Bust Cycles in Emerging Markets: How Important is the Exchange Rate?," LCERPA Working Papers 0108, Laurier Centre for Economic Research and Policy Analysis, revised 30 Jan 2018.
    18. Fuertes, Ana-Maria & Phylaktis, Kate & Yan, Cheng, 2016. "Hot money in bank credit flows to emerging markets during the banking globalization era," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 29-52.
    19. McKinnon, Ronald, 2013. "The U.S. saving deficiency, current-account deficits, and deindustrialization: Implications for China," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 449-458.
    20. Pablo Duarte & Gunther Schnabl, 2015. "Macroeconomic Policy Making, Exchange Rate Adjustment and Current Account Imbalances in Emerging Markets," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 531-544, August.

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