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Monetary Sovereignty, Exchange Rates, and Capital Controls: The Trilemma in the Interwar Period

  • Obstfeld, Maurice
  • Shambaugh, Jay C
  • Taylor, Alan M.

The interwar period was marked by the end of the classical gold standard regime and new levels of macroeconomic disorder in the world economy. The interwar disorder is often linked to policies inconsistent with the constraint of the open-economy trilemma - the inability of policy-makers simultaneously to pursue a fixed exchange rate, open capital markets, and autonomous monetary policy. The first two objectives were linchpins of the pre-1914 order. As increasingly democratic polities faced pressures to engage in domestic macroeconomic management, however, either currency pegs or freedom of capital movements had to yield. This historical analytic narrative is compelling - with significant ramifications for today’s world, if true - but empirically controversial. We apply theory and empirics to the interwar data and find strong support for the logic of the trilemma. Thus, an inability to pursue consistent policies in a rapidly changing political and economic environment appears central to an understanding of the interwar crises, and the same constraints still apply today.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 4353.

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Date of creation: Apr 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:4353
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  1. Robert P. Flood & Andrew K. Rose, 1993. "Fixing Exchange Rates: A Virtual Quest for Fundamentals," NBER Working Papers 4503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lars E.O. Svensson, 1990. "The Term Structure of Interest Rate Differentials in a Target Zone: Theory and Swedish Data," NBER Working Papers 3374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Elliott, Graham & Rothenberg, Thomas J & Stock, James H, 1996. "Efficient Tests for an Autoregressive Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(4), pages 813-36, July.
  4. Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C.Shambaugh & Alan M.Taylor, 2003. "The Trilemma in History:Tradeoffs among Exchange Rates, Monetary Policies,and Capital Mobility," DNB Staff Reports (discontinued) 94, Netherlands Central Bank.
  5. Michael D. Bordo, 2003. "Exchange Rate Regime Choice in Historical Perspective," IMF Working Papers 03/160, International Monetary Fund.
  6. Michael D. Bordo, 2003. "Exchange Rate Regime Choice in Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 9654, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Sergio L. Schmukler & Luis Serven, 2002. "Global Transmission of Interest Rates: Monetary Independence and Currency Regime," NBER Working Papers 8828, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, June.
  9. Marianne Baxter & Alan C. Stockman, 1988. "Business Cycles and the Exchange Rate System: Some International Evidence," NBER Working Papers 2689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Paul R. Krugman, 1988. "Target Zones and Exchange Rate Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 2481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kwiatkowski, Denis & Phillips, Peter C. B. & Schmidt, Peter & Shin, Yongcheol, 1992. "Testing the null hypothesis of stationarity against the alternative of a unit root : How sure are we that economic time series have a unit root?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1-3), pages 159-178.
  12. Pablo Emilio Guidotti & Guillermo Calvo, 1991. "Speculative Attacks," IMF Working Papers 91/10, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Kenneth A. Froot & Maurice Obstfeld, 1989. "Stochastic Process Switching: Some Simple Solutions," NBER Working Papers 2998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Serena Ng & Pierre Perron, 2001. "LAG Length Selection and the Construction of Unit Root Tests with Good Size and Power," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1519-1554, November.
  15. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2004. "The Modern History of Exchange Rate Arrangements: A Reinterpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 1-48, February.
  16. Larry Neal & Marc Weidenmier, 2002. "Crises in the Global Economy from Tulips to Today: Contagion and Consequences," NBER Working Papers 9147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Obstfeld, Maurice & Taylor, Alan M., 1997. "The Great Depression as a Watershed: International Capital Mobility over the Long Run," CEPR Discussion Papers 1633, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. repec:rus:hseeco:181565 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Larry D. Neal & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2003. "Crises in the Global Economy from Tulips to Today," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 473-514 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Rose, Andrew K., 1996. "Explaining exchange rate volatility: an empirical analysis of 'the holy trinity' of monetary independence, fixed exchange rates, and capital mobility," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 925-945, December.
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  22. Jay C. Shambaugh, 2004. "The Effect of Fixed Exchange Rates on Monetary Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 300-351, February.
  23. Flood, Robert P & Garber, Peter M, 1991. "The Linkage between Speculative Attack and Target Zone Models of Exchange Rates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1367-72, November.
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