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Currency crisis and collapse in interwar Greece: Predicament or Policy Failure?

  • Nicos Christodoulakis

Greece in 1928 viewed the anchoring to the Gold Exchange Standard as the imperative choice of the time in order to implant financial credibility and carry over an ambitious plan of reforms to modernise the economy. But after the pound sterling exited the system in 1931, Greece, instead of following suit, chose a defence that drove interest rates at high levels, squeezed the real economy and exhausted foreign reserves. Unable to borrow from abroad, it quitted the system in 1932 and the Drachma was heavily devalued. Despite a rise in competitiveness, the erosion of real incomes cut domestic demand, unemployment continued to rise and the country entered a period of acute social and political instability. The lessons are perhaps relevant today for the costs that Greece would face by exiting the Eurozone. A model of Balance of Payments crises with partial capital controls is employed to analyze the response of currency pegs to external shocks and examine under which circumstances the regime collapses. Its main predictions are found to be in agreement with the actual outcomes in 1932.

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Paper provided by Hellenic Observatory, LSE in its series GreeSE – Hellenic Observatory Papers on Greece and Southeast Europe with number 60.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
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Handle: RePEc:hel:greese:60
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  1. Hugh Rockoff & Michael D. Bordo, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval"," Departmental Working Papers 199528, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Olivier J. Blanchard & Lawrence H. Summers, 1986. "Hysteresis and the European Unemployment Problem," Working papers 427, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  4. Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1987. "Collapsing exchange rate regimes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(1-2), pages 71-83, October.
  5. Aleh Tsyvinski & Arijit Mukherji & Christian Hellwig, 2006. "Self-Fulfilling Currency Crises: The Role of Interest Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1769-1787, December.
  6. Girton, Lance & Roper, Don, 1977. "A Monetary Model of Exchange Market Pressure Applied to the Postwar Canadian Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 537-48, September.
  7. Calvo, Guillermo A, 1987. "Balance of Payments Crises in a Cash-in-Advance Economy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 19(1), pages 19-32, February.
  8. Flood, Robert P. & Garber, Peter M., 1984. "Collapsing exchange-rate regimes : Some linear examples," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1-2), pages 1-13, August.
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