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Stuck on Gold: Real Exchange Rate Volatility and the Rise and Fall of the Gold Standard, 1870-1939


  • Chernyshoff, Natasha
  • Jacks, David S.
  • Taylor, Alan M.


Did adoption of the gold standard exacerbate or diminish macroeconomic volatility? Supporters thought so, critics thought not, and theory offers ambiguous messages. A hard exchange-rate regime such as the gold standard might limit monetary shocks if it ties the hands of policy-makers. But any decision to forsake exchange-rate flexibility might compromise shock absorption in a world of real shocks and nominal stickiness. A simple model shows how a lack of flexibility can be discerned in the transmission of terms of trade shocks. Evidence on the relationship between real exchange rate volatility and terms of trade volatility from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century exposes a dramatic change. The classical gold standard did absorb shocks, but the interwar gold standard did not, and this historical pattern suggests that the interwar gold standard was a poor regime choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Chernyshoff, Natasha & Jacks, David S. & Taylor, Alan M., 2006. "Stuck on Gold: Real Exchange Rate Volatility and the Rise and Fall of the Gold Standard, 1870-1939," CEPR Discussion Papers 5430, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5430

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    Cited by:

    1. NAKABAYASHI, Masaki, 2008. "Imposed Efficiency of Treaty Port: Japanese Industrialization and Western Imperialist Institutions," ISS Discussion Paper Series (series F) f142, Institute of Social Science, The University of Tokyo, revised 15 Jun 2012.
    2. Lin, Justin Yifu & Fardoust, Shahrokh & Rosenblatt, David, 2012. "Reform of the international monetary system : a jagged history and uncertain prospects," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6070, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    gold standard;

    JEL classification:

    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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