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Scylla and Charybdis. The European Economy and Poland's Adherence to Gold, 1928-1936

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  • Nikolaus Wolf

Abstract

This paper examines the timing of exit from the gold-exchange standard for European countries based on a panel of monthly observations 1928-1936 for two purposes: first it aims to understand the enormous variation in monetary policy choices across Europe. I show that the pattern of exit from gold can be understood in terms of variation in factors commonly suggested in the theoretical literature, which makes it possible to predict with reasonable accuracy the very month when a country will exit gold in the 1930s. Second, I analyse the case of Poland more closely because it appears to be an intriguing outlier. Poland did not leave gold until April 1936 and suffered through one of the worst examples of a depression, with massive deflation and a complete collapse of industrial production. The estimated model fares worst for Poland, and predicts an exit even later than April 1936. By closer inspection, the factors that drive this prediction are the non-democratic character of the regime and a surprisingly high degree of trade integration with France. I argue that Poland's monetary policy was determined by attempts of the Pilsudski regime to defend Poland against foreign (esp. German) aggression. I provide evidence that strongly supports this view until about mid-1933. Ironically, just when Poland had joined the gold-bloc there were signs of a broad strategic reorientation, which paved the way for an exit in 1936.

Suggested Citation

  • Nikolaus Wolf, 2007. "Scylla and Charybdis. The European Economy and Poland's Adherence to Gold, 1928-1936," CEP Discussion Papers dp0834, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0834
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195101133.
    2. Heckman, James J. & Singer, Burton, 1984. "Econometric duration analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 63-132.
    3. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2005. "Path dependent border effects: the case of Poland's reunification (1918-1939)," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 414-438, July.
    4. Klein, Michael W. & Marion, Nancy P., 1997. "Explaining the duration of exchange-rate pegs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 387-404, December.
    5. Michael Bordo & Michael Edelstein, 1999. "Was Adherence to the Gold Standard a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" During the Interwar Period?," NBER Working Papers 7186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. repec:mes:challe:v:27:y:1984:i:2:p:59-61 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Wandschneider, Kirsten, 2008. "The Stability of the Interwar Gold Exchange Standard: Did Politics Matter?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(01), pages 151-181, March.
    8. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Gold-Exchange Standard; Interwar Period; Europe; Poland;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-

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