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Target Zones in History and Theory: Lessons from an Austro-Hungarian Experiment (1896-1914)

  • Flandreau, Marc
  • Komlos, John

The first known experiment with an exchange rate band took place in Austria- Hungary between 1896 and 1914. The rationale for introducing this policy rested on precisely those intuitions that the modern literature has emphasized: the band was designed to secure both exchange rate stability and monetary policy autonomy. However, unlike more recent experiences, such as the ERM, this policy was not undermined by credibility problems. The episode provides an ideal testing ground for some important ideas in modern macroeconomics: specifically, can formal rules, when faithfully adhered to, provide policy makers with some advantages such as short term autonomy? First, we find that a credible band has a “microeconomic” influence on exchange rate stability. By reducing uncertainty, a credible fluctuation band improves the quality of expectations, a channel that has been neglected in the modern literature. Second, we show that the standard test of the basic target zone model is flawed and develop an alternative methodology. We believe that these findings shed a new light on the economics of exchange rate bands.

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Paper provided by University of Munich, Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 75.

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Date of creation: Jul 2003
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Handle: RePEc:lmu:muenec:75
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  1. Bertola, G. & Svensson, L.E., 1990. "Stochastic Devaluation Risk and the Empirical Fit of Target Zone Models," Papers 481, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  2. Officer,Lawrence H., 2007. "Between the Dollar-Sterling Gold Points," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521038218.
  3. Lars E.O. Svensson, 1992. "Why Exchange Rate Bands? Monetary Independence in Spite of Fixed Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 4207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael D. Bordo & Marc Flandreau, 2003. "Core, Periphery, Exchange Rate Regimes, and Globalization," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 417-472 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Lars E. O. Svensson, 1992. "An Interpretation of Recent Research on Exchange Rate Target Zones," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 119-144, Fall.
  6. Mark Blaug, 2001. "No History of Ideas, Please, We're Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(1), pages 145-164, Winter.
  7. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/622 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Koppl, Roger & Yeager, Leland B., 1996. "Big Players and Herding in Asset Markets: The Case of the Russian Ruble," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 367-383, July.
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