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The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Rise of the Dollar as an International Currency, 1914-1939

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Abstract

This paper provides new evidence on the rise of the dollar as an international currency, focusing on its role in the conduct of trade and the provision of trade credit. We show that the shift to the dollar occurred much earlier than conventionally supposed: during and immediately after World War I. Not just market forces but also policy support – the Fed in its role as market maker – was important for the dollar’s overtaking of sterling as the leading international currency. On balance, this experience challenges the popular notion of international currency status as being determined mainly by market size. It suggests that the popular image of strongly increasing returns and pervasive network externalities leaving room for only one monetary technology is misleading.

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen, Marc Flandreau, 2010. "The Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, and the Rise of the Dollar as an International Currency, 1914-1939," IHEID Working Papers 16-2010, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heidwp16-2010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marc Flandreau & Clemens Jobst, 2005. "The Ties that Divide: A Network Analysis of the International Monetary System, 1890-1910," Working Papers hal-01065599, HAL.
    2. Marc Flandreau & Clemens Jobst, 2009. "The Empirics of International Currencies: Network Externalities, History and Persistence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(537), pages 643-664, April.
    3. Menzie D. Chinn & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 2008. "The Euro May Over the Next 15 Years Surpass the Dollar as Leading International Currency," NBER Working Papers 13909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hausmann Ricardo & Panizza Ugo, 2011. "Redemption or Abstinence? Original Sin, Currency Mismatches and Counter Cyclical Policies in the New Millennium," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-35, August.
    5. Briones, Ignacio & Villela, Andrã‰, 2006. "European bank penetration during the first wave of globalisation: Lessons from Brazil and Chile, 1878–1913," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 329-359, December.
    6. Battilossi, Stefano, 2006. "The determinants of multinational banking during the first globalisation 1880–1914," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 361-388, December.
    7. Jones, Geoffrey, 1995. "British Multinational Banking, 1830-1990," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198206026.
    8. Liebowitz, S J & Margolis, Stephen E, 1990. "The Fable of the Keys," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-25, April.
    9. Marc Flandreau & Clemens Jobst, 2005. "The Ties that Divide : a Network Analysis of the International Monetary System, 1890-1910," Post-Print hal-03416103, HAL.
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    12. Perry Mehrling, 2010. "The New Lombard Street: How the Fed Became the Dealer of Last Resort," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9298.
    13. David, Paul A, 1985. "Clio and the Economics of QWERTY," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 332-337, May.
    14. Flandreau, Marc & Jobst, Clemens, 2005. "The Ties that Divide. A Network Analysis of the International Monetary System," CEPR Discussion Papers 5129, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    16. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-338, May.
    17. Ignacio Briones & André Villela, 2006. "European Bank Penetration During The First Wave Of Globalization: Lessons From Brazil And Chile, 1878/1913," Anais do XXXIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 34th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 23, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    international currency; trade credit; network externalities;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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