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The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the rise of the dollar as an international currency, 1914-39

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  • Barry Eichengreen
  • Marc Flandreau

Abstract

This paper provides new evidence on the rise of the dollar as an international currency, focusing on its role in the conduct of trade and the provision of trade credit. We show that the shift to the dollar occurred much earlier than conventionally supposed: during and immediately after World War I. Not just market forces but also policy support - the Fed in its role as market maker - was important for the dollar's overtaking of sterling as the leading international currency. On balance, this experience challenges the popular notion of international currency status as being determined mainly by market size. It suggests that the popular image of strongly increasing returns and pervasive network externalities leaving room for only one monetary technology is misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen & Marc Flandreau, 2010. "The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the rise of the dollar as an international currency, 1914-39," BIS Working Papers 328, Bank for International Settlements.
  • Handle: RePEc:bis:biswps:328
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Battilossi, Stefano, 2006. "The determinants of multinational banking during the first globalisation 1880 1914," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(03), pages 361-388, December.
    2. Menzie D. Chinn & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 2008. "The Euro May Over the Next 15 Years Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Currency," NBER Working Papers 13909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hausmann Ricardo & Panizza Ugo, 2011. "Redemption or Abstinence? Original Sin, Currency Mismatches and Counter Cyclical Policies in the New Millennium," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-35, August.
    4. Gino Cattani & Adrian E. Tschoegl, 2002. "An Evolutionary View of Internationalization: Chase Manhattan Bank, 1917 to 1996," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 02-37, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    5. Flandreau, Marc & Jobst, Clemens, 2005. "The Ties that Divide. A Network Analysis of the International Monetary System," CEPR Discussion Papers 5129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Eichengreen, Barry & Flandreau, Marc, 2009. "The rise and fall of the dollar (or when did the dollar replace sterling as the leading reserve currency?)," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(03), pages 377-411, December.
    7. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. To RMB or not to RMB? Lessons from Currency History
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2014-08-18 15:42:16
    2. Donald Trump, Treasury Debt and the Dollar
      by Stephen G. Cecchetti in Huffington Post Business on 2016-05-24 09:01:07

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ignazio Angeloni & André Sapir, 2011. "The international monetary system is changing: what opportunities and risks for the euro?," Working Papers 632, Bruegel.
    2. Chiţu, Livia & Eichengreen, Barry & Mehl, Arnaud, 2014. "History, gravity and international finance," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 104-129.
    3. Eric Helleiner & Anton Malkin, 2012. "Sectoral Interests and Global Money: Renminbi, Dollars and the Domestic Foundations of International Currency Policy," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 33-55, February.
    4. Ignazio Angeloni & Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Benjamin Carton & Christophe Destais & Zsolt Darvas & Jean Pisani-Ferry & André Sapir & Shahin Vallée, . "Global currencies for tomorrow: a European perspective," Blueprints, Bruegel, number 592, December.
    5. Prasad, Eswar S. & Ye, Lei, 2011. "The renminbi’s role in the global monetary system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov, pages 127-197.
    6. Robert N McCauley & Tracy Chan, 2014. "Currency movements drive reserve composition," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, December.
    7. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré & Jean Pisani-Ferry, 2011. "Quel système monétaire international pour une économie mondiale en mutation rapide ?," Working Papers 2011-04, CEPII research center.
    8. Chiţu, Livia & Eichengreen, Barry & Mehl, Arnaud, 2014. "When did the dollar overtake sterling as the leading international currency? Evidence from the bond markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 225-245.
    9. Yu, Yongding, 2012. "Revisiting the Internationalization of the Yuan," ADBI Working Papers 366, Asian Development Bank Institute.
    10. Benjamin Cohen, 2012. "The Benefits and Costs of an International Currency: Getting the Calculus Right," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 13-31, February.
    11. Zhang, Cathy, 2014. "An information-based theory of international currency," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(2), pages 286-301.
    12. Tomasz Serwach, 2013. "Renminbi jako waluta miedzynarodowa - stan obecny oraz ocena perspektyw / Renminbi as international currency - current state and potential perspectives," International Economics, University of Lodz, Faculty of Economics and Sociology, issue 4, pages 39-53, December.
    13. Marc Flandreau & Stefano Ugolini, 2013. "Where It All Began: Lending of Last Resort and Bank of England Monitoring During the Overend-Gurney Panic of 1866," Post-Print hal-01293916, HAL.

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    Keywords

    foreign exchange reserves; network externalities; path dependency; money markets;

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