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Credible Commitment and Exchange Rate Stability: Canada's Interwar Experience

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Angela Redish

Abstract

In January 1929 the Canadian government suspended gold exports and began a floating exchange rate regime that endured until the onset of World War 11. In sharp contrast with the experience of other countries which left the gold standard, deflation and declining economic activity continued in Canada until 1933. This paper examines the determinants of the Canadian exchange rate in the 1930's and provides an answer to the question of why the Canadian dollar did not depreciate in the early 1930's despite Canada's de facto departure from the Gold Standard. We develop the answer in two stages. First, we show that the government made a clear commitment to maintain a contractionary monetary policy. It did so because it believed: that monetary expansion would increase the value of external obligations without reducing the value of domestic obligations; and that even if all contractual obligations were met, Canada would lose her reputation as a responsible debtor. Second, we argue that the government's commitment was viewed by the public as credible. The credible commitment dominated market agent's expectations of the evolution of the exchange rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Angela Redish, 1987. "Credible Commitment and Exchange Rate Stability: Canada's Interwar Experience," NBER Working Papers 2431, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2431
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    1. Choudhri, Ehsan U & Kochin, Levis A, 1980. "The Exchange Rate and the International Transmission of Business Cycle Disturbances: Some Evidence from the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(4), pages 565-574, November.
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    1. tattara, Giuseppe, 1995. "Bilancia dei pagamenti, movimenti dei capitali ed equilibrio interno nei primi 50 anni del regno d'Italia
      [Balance of payments, capital movements, domestic equilibrium in the first 50 years of the
      ," MPRA Paper 39086, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Tattara, Giuseppe, 2003. "Paper money but a gold debt: Italy on the gold standard," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 122-142, April.
    3. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher M. Meissner, 2015. "Growing Up to Stability? Financial Globalization, Financial Development and Financial Crises," NBER Working Papers 21287, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michael Bordo & Tamara Gomes & Lawrence Schembri, 2010. "Canada and the IMF: Trailblazer or Prodigal Son?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 309-333, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Ehsan U. Choudhri & Lawrence L. Schembri, 2013. "A Tale of Two Countries and Two Booms, Canada and the United States in the 1920s and the 2000s: The Roles of Monetary and Financial Stability Policies," Working Paper series 44_13, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.
    7. Michael D. Bordo & Christopher Meissner & Angela Redish, 2003. "How "Original Sin" was Overcome: The Evolution of External Debt Denominated in Domestic Currencies in the United States and the British Dominions," NBER Working Papers 9841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Eichengreen, Barry & Irwin, Douglas A., 2010. "The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 70(04), pages 871-897, December.
    9. Michael D. Bordo & Anna J. Schwartz, 1994. "The Specie Standard as a Contingent Rule: Some Evidence for Core and Peripheral Countries, 1880-1990," NBER Working Papers 4860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Pedro Amaral & James C. MacGee, 2002. "The Great Depression in Canada and the United States: A Neoclassical Perspective," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(1), pages 45-72, January.
    11. Michael D. Bordo, 1993. "The gold standard, Bretton Woods and other monetary regimes: a historical appraisal," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 123-191.

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