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The Decline and Fall of the Scandinavian Currency Union 1914 – 1924: Events in the Aftermath of World War I


  • Talia, Krim

    () (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics)


In 1873, Denmark, Norway and Sweden formed the Scandinavian Currency Union (SCU) and adopted the gold standard. The Union worked fairly smoothly during the next thirty years and was partly extended until 1914. The outbreak of World War I triggered a series of events that eventually would lead to the formal cancellation of the union in 1924. The suspension of convertibility and the export prohibition on gold in 1914, opened exchange rate tensions within the union, and acted as a first nail in the SCU’s coffin. Although the countries de facto had their currencies valued at different rates externally, the treaty of 1873 made them tradable at par within the union. This conflict, between de facto situation and de jure regulation, opened arbitrage opportunities for the public; but also resulted in opportunistic behaviour in the relation between the Scandinavian Central Banks. This study of the break-up of the SCU finds that the gold standard functioned as a unifying straitjacket on monetary policy and was an important prerequisite for a monetary union without a common central bank. It also challenges earlier work on the break-up of the SCU, by suggesting that the most important factor behind the centrifugal tensions within the Currency Union was the improved Swedish balance of trade following the outbreak of Word War I. The fact that wartime trade performance differed between the three countries made the currency area face an asymmetric external shock that required an exchange-rate adjustment – causing the fall of the union.

Suggested Citation

  • Talia, Krim, 2004. "The Decline and Fall of the Scandinavian Currency Union 1914 – 1924: Events in the Aftermath of World War I," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 609, Stockholm School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:hastef:0609

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Denmark and Norway were the PIIGS of the Scandinavian Currency Union
      by Lars Christensen in The Market Monetarist on 2012-06-12 17:26:34

    More about this item


    Monetary Unions; Scandinavian Currency Union; Centralbanking; Centralbank Cooperation; Financial history;

    JEL classification:

    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E59 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Other
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • N23 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-


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