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U.S. Intervention During the Bretton Woods Era: 1962-1973

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Owen F. Humpage
  • Anna J. Schwartz

Abstract

By the early 1960s, outstanding U.S. dollar liabilities began to exceed the U.S. gold stock, suggesting that the United States could not completely maintain its pledge to convert dollars into gold at the official price. This raised uncertainty about the Bretton Woods parity grid, and speculation seemed to grow. In response, the Federal Reserve instituted a series of swap lines to provide central banks with cover for unwanted, but temporary accumulations of dollars and to provide foreign central banks with dollar funds to finance their own interventions. The Treasury also began intervening in the market. The operations often forestalled gold losses, but in so doing, delayed the need to solve Bretton Woods' fundamental underlying problems. In addition, the institutional arrangements forged between the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury raised important questions bearing on Federal Reserve independence.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Owen F. Humpage & Anna J. Schwartz, 2011. "U.S. Intervention During the Bretton Woods Era: 1962-1973," NBER Working Papers 16946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16946
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael D. Bordo & Dominique Simard & Eugene White, 1994. "France and the Bretton Woods International Monetary System: 1960-1968," NBER Working Papers 4642, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael Bordo & Ali Dib & Lawrence Schembri, 2010. "Canada's Pioneering Experience with a Flexible Exchange Rate in the 1950s: (Hard) Lessons Learned for Monetary Policy in a Small Open Economy," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 6(3), pages 51-99, September.
    3. Michael Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 2013. "Bretton Woods and the Great Inflation," NBER Chapters, in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 449-489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Owen F. Humpage & Sanchita Mukherjee, 2013. "Even keel and the Great Inflation," Working Papers (Old Series) 1315, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Michael D. Bordo & Owen F. Humpage & Anna J. Schwartz, 2012. "Bretton Woods, swap lines, and the Federal Reserve’s return to intervention," Working Papers (Old Series) 1232, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    3. Rockoff, Hugh & White, Eugene N., 2012. "Monetary Regimes and Policy on a Global Scale: The Oeuvre of Michael D. Bordo," MPRA Paper 49672, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised May 2013.
    4. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2017. "Identification in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 23968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

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