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Currency Crisis and Unemployment: Sterling in 1931

  • Eichengreen, Barry
  • Jeanne, Olivier

This paper studies the role of unemployment in sterling’s inter-war experience. According to most narrative accounts, the proximate cause of the 1931 sterling crisis was a high and rising unemployment rate that placed pressure on British governments to pursue reflationary policies. We present a model which, in the spirit of the ‘second generation’ approach to currency crises, highlights the conflict between the objective of low unemployment and defence of the currency and show that it can reproduce the main features of sterling’s inter-war experience. Econometric evidence lends further support to the view that the proximate cause of the sterling crisis was the dramatic rise in unemployment caused by external deflationary forces.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 1898.

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Date of creation: Jun 1998
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:1898
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  1. Benjamin, Daniel K & Kochin, Levis A, 1979. "Searching for an Explanation of Unemployment in Interwar Britain," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 441-78, June.
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  9. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-25, August.
  10. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," NBER Working Papers 5146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. anonymous, 1976. "International banking," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Spr, pages 3-4.
  12. Jeanne, Olivier, 1997. "Are currency crises self-fulfilling?: A test," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3-4), pages 263-286, November.
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  14. Jeanne, Olivier & Masson, Paul R, 1998. "Currency Crises, Sunspots and Markov-Switching Regimes," CEPR Discussion Papers 1990, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. Paul Krugman, 1996. "Are Currency Crises Self-Fulfilling?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1996, Volume 11, pages 345-407 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195101133, December.
  17. Maurice Obstfeld, 1984. "Rational and Self-Fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," NBER Working Papers 1486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Hatton, T J, 1988. "A Quarterly Model of the Labour Market in Interwar Britain," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, February.
  19. Velasco, Andres, 1996. "Fixed exchange rates: Credibility, flexibility and multiplicity," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 1023-1035, April.
  20. Dimsdale, N H & Nickell, Stephen J & Horsewood, N, 1989. "Real Wages and Unemployment in Britain during the 1930s," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 271-92, June.
  21. Alogoskoufis, George S & Smith, Ron, 1991. "The Phillips Curve, the Persistence of Inflation, and the Lucas Critique: Evidence from Exchange-Rate Regimes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1254-75, December.
  22. Caves, Richard E. & North, Douglass C. & Price, Jacob M., 1980. "Exports and economic growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-5, January.
  23. Miller, Marcus & Sutherland, Alan, 1994. "Speculative Anticipations of Sterling's Return to Gold: Was Keynes Wrong?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 804-12, July.
  24. Ben S. Bernanke & Kevin Carey, 1996. "Nominal Wage Stickiness and Aggregate Supply in the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 853-883.
  25. Olivier Jeanne., 1997. "The Persistence of Unemployment Under a Fixed Exchange Rate Peg," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C97-093, University of California at Berkeley.
  26. Rudger Dornbusch & Ilan Goldfajn & Rodrigo O. Valdés, 1995. "Currency Crises and Collapses," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 219-294.
  27. Crafts, N F R, 1989. "Long-term Unemployment and the Wage Equation in Britain, 1925-1939," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(222), pages 247-54, May.
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