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A Gold Standard Isn't Viable Unless Supported by Sufficiently Flexible Monetary and Fiscal Policy

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  • Buiter, Willem H.

Abstract

The paper studies an idealized gold standard in a two-country setting. Unless national policies for domestic credit expansion (dce) are flexible enough to offset the effect of money demand shocks on international gold reserves, the gold standard collapses with certainty in finite time through a speculative selling attack against one of the currencies. Various policies for postponing a collapse are considered. When a dce policy is sufficiently responsive and eliminates the danger of a run on a country's reserves, the exogenous shocks disturbing the system, which previously were reflected in reserve flows, now show up in the behaviour of the public debt. Unless the primary (non-interest) government deficit is permitted to respond to these shocks, the public debt is likely to rise (or fall) to unsustainable levels. The idealized gold standard analysed in this paper is only viable through the active and flexible use of monetary and fiscal policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Buiter, Willem H., 1986. "A Gold Standard Isn't Viable Unless Supported by Sufficiently Flexible Monetary and Fiscal Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 125, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:125
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Flood, Robert P & Garber, Peter M, 1983. "A Model of Stochastic Process Switching," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 537-551, May.
    2. Stephen W. Salant & Dale W. Henderson, 1976. "Market anticipations, government policy, and the price of gold," International Finance Discussion Papers 81, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Maurice Obstfeld, 1986. "Speculative Attack and the External Constraint in a Maximizing Model of the Balance of Payments," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 19(1), pages 1-22, February.
    4. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1984. "Balance-of-Payments Crises and Devaluation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 16(2), pages 208-217, May.
    5. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-325, August.
    6. Buiter, Willem H, 1984. "Saddlepoint Problems in Continuous Time Rational Expectations Models: A General Method and Some Macroeconomic Examples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 665-680, May.
    7. Salant, Stephen W & Henderson, Dale W, 1978. "Market Anticipations of Government Policies and the Price of Gold," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(4), pages 627-648, August.
    8. Grilli, Vittorio U., 1986. "Buying and selling attacks on fixed exchange rate systems," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(1-2), pages 143-156, February.
    9. Barsky, Robert B & Summers, Lawrence H, 1988. "Gibson's Paradox and the Gold Standard," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 528-550, June.
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