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Dirty float or clean intervention? The Bank of England in the foreign exchange market

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  • Naef, Alain

    () (University of Cambridge)

Abstract

The effectiveness of central bank intervention is debated and despite literature showing mixed results, central banks regularly intervene in the foreign exchange market, both in developing and developed economies. Does foreign exchange intervention work? Using over 60,000 new daily observations on intervention and exchange rates, this paper is the first study of the Bank of England’s foreign exchange intervention between 1952 and 1972. The main finding is that the Bank of England was unsuccessful in managing a credible exchange rate over that period. Running an event study, I demonstrate that betting systematically against the Bank of England would have been a profitable trading strategy. The Bank of England failed to maintain credibility in offshore markets and eventually manipulated the publication of its reserve figures to avoid a run on sterling.

Suggested Citation

  • Naef, Alain, 2019. "Dirty float or clean intervention? The Bank of England in the foreign exchange market," Lund Papers in Economic History 199, Lund University, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:luekhi:0199
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Madhusudan Mohanty & Bat-el Berger, 2013. "Central bank views on foreign exchange intervention," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Sovereign risk: a world without risk-free assets?, volume 73, pages 55-74 Bank for International Settlements.
    2. Marcel Fratzscher & Oliver Gloede & Lukas Menkhoff & Lucio Sarno & Tobias Stöhr, 2019. "When Is Foreign Exchange Intervention Effective? Evidence from 33 Countries," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 132-156, January.
    3. Michael Bordo & Eric Monnet & Alain Naef, 2017. "The Gold Pool (1961-1968) and the Fall of the Bretton Woods System. Lessons for Central Bank Cooperation," NBER Working Papers 24016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mark P. Taylor & Lucio Sarno, 2001. "Official Intervention in the Foreign Exchange Market: Is It Effective and, If So, How Does It Work?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(3), pages 839-868, September.
    5. Krugman, Paul, 1979. "A Model of Balance-of-Payments Crises," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 11(3), pages 311-325, August.
    6. Taylor, Alan M, 2010. "Global finance after the crisis," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 50(4), pages 366-377.
    7. Edison, H.J., 1993. "The Effectiveness of Central-Bank Intervention: A Survey of the Litterature after 1982," Princeton Studies in International Economics 18, International Economics Section, Departement of Economics Princeton University,.
    8. Eichengreen, Barry & Flandreau, Marc, 2009. "The rise and fall of the dollar (or when did the dollar replace sterling as the leading reserve currency?)," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(03), pages 377-411, December.
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    10. Ito, Takatoshi & Yabu, Tomoyoshi, 2007. "What prompts Japan to intervene in the Forex market? A new approach to a reaction function," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 193-212, March.
    11. Burkhard, Lukas & Fischer, Andreas M., 2009. "Communicating policy options at the zero bound," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 742-754, September.
    12. Schenk,Catherine R., 2013. "The Decline of Sterling," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107612990, July - De.
    13. Dominguez, Kathryn M & Frankel, Jeffrey A, 1993. "Does Foreign-Exchange Intervention Matter? The Portfolio Effect," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1356-1369, December.
    14. Michael D. Bordo & Owen F. Humpage & Anna J. Schwartz, 2012. "The Federal Reserve as an Informed Foreign Exchange Trader: 1973–1995," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 8(1), pages 127-160, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    intervention; foreign exchange; central bank; Bank of England; Bretton Woods;

    JEL classification:

    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N24 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Europe: 1913-

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