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The "Thin Film Of Gold": Monetary Rules and Policy Credibility In Developing Countries

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Listed:
  • Niall Ferguson
  • Moritz Schularick

Abstract

This paper asks whether developing countries can reap credibility gains from submitting policy to a strict monetary rule. Following earlier work, we look at the gold standard era (1880-1914) as a "natural experiment" to test whether adoption of a rule-based monetary framework such as the gold standard increased policy credibility. On the basis of the largest possible dataset covering almost sixty independent and colonial borrowers in the London market, we challenge the traditional view that gold standard adherence worked as a credible commitment mechanism that was rewarded by financial markets with lower borrowing costs. We demonstrate that in the poor periphery -- where policy credibility is a particularly acute problem -- the market looked behind "the thin film of gold". Our results point to a dichotomy: whereas country risk premia fell after gold adoption in developed countries, there were no credibility gains in the volatile economic and political environments of developing countries. History shows that monetary policy rules are no short-cut to credibility in situations where vulnerability to economic and political shocks, not time-inconsistency, are overarching concerns for investors.

Suggested Citation

  • Niall Ferguson & Moritz Schularick, 2008. "The "Thin Film Of Gold": Monetary Rules and Policy Credibility In Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 13918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13918
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13918.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Rui Esteves & João Tovar Jalles, 2016. "Like Father Like Sons? The Cost of Sovereign Defaults in Reduced Credit to the Private Sector," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 48(7), pages 1515-1545, October.
    2. Volosovych, Vadym, 2011. "Measuring financial market integration over the long run: Is there a U-shape?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(7), pages 1535-1561.
    3. Grossman, Richard S. & Imai, Masami, 2009. "Japan's return to gold: Turning points in the value of the yen during the 1920s," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 314-323, July.
    4. Reid, Monique, 2015. "Inflation expectations of the inattentive general public," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 157-166.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • N20 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - General, International, or Comparative

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