The Adjustment Mechanism
This paper studies the mechanisms of international payments adjustment at work under the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, 1945 to 1971. I argue that two market failures, imperfect international capital mobility and imperfect wage-price flexibility, are central to understanding the adjustment problems of that period. Imperfect capital mobility implied that even intertemporally solvent governments could face international liquidity constraints. Wage-price inflexibility implied that countries suffering from simultaneous reserve loss and unemployment might need to undergo lengthy transitions before returning to balance. By the 1960s, when trade had been substantially liberalized and partial convertibility restored, the main remaining adjustment weapon was currency realignment: devaluation could eliminate an unemployment-cum-deficit dilemma in a stroke, while revaluation could relieve the inflationary pressures in surplus countries. The currency-realignment option proved incompatible with the growing efficiency of the international capital market, however. Under the classical gold standard, high capital mobility had supported the credibility of fixed exchange rates. Under Bretton Woods fixed gold parities did not have primacy among other economic objectives; and increasing capital mobility undermined the regime as governments proved unwilling to stand by key systemic commitments.
|Date of creation:||Dec 1991|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System, edited by Michael D. Bordo and Barry Eichengreen, pp. 201-268. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1993.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Laney, Leroy O. & Willett, Thomas D., 1982. "The international liquidity explosion and worldwide inflation: The evidence from sterilization coefficient estimates," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 141-152, January.
- Meese, Richard A., 1984. "Is the sticky price assumption reasonable for exchange rate models?," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 131-139, August.
- Obstfeld, Maurice, 1980.
"Imperfect asset substitutability and monetary policy under fixed exchange rates,"
Journal of International Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 177-200, May.
- Maurice Obstfeld, 1980. "Imperfect Asset Substitutability and Monetary Policy under Fixed Exchange Rates," NBER Working Papers 0485, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Maddison, Angus, 1987. "Growth and Slowdown in Advanced Capitalist Economies: Techniques of Quantitative Assessment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 649-98, June.
- Fumio Hayashi, 1989. "Japan's Saving Rate: New Data and Reflections," NBER Working Papers 3205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Foley, Duncan K & Hellwig, Martin F, 1975.
"Asset Management with Trading Uncertainty,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 327-46, July.
- Persson, Torsten, 1984. "Real transfers in fixed exchange rate systems and the international adjustment mechanism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 349-369, May.
- Aliber, Robert Z, 1973. "The Interest Rate Parity Theorem: A Reinterpretation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(6), pages 1451-59, Nov.-Dec..
- Grilli, Vittorio, 1990. "Managing exchange rate crises: evidence from the 1890s," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 258-275, September.
- Miles, Marc A, 1979. "The Effects of Devaluation on the Trade Balance and the Balance of Payments: Some New Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(3), pages 600-20, June.
- Bewley, Truman, 1983.
"A Difficulty with the Optimum Quantity of Money,"
Econometric Society, vol. 51(5), pages 1485-504, September.
- Dornbusch, Rudiger, 1976. "Expectations and Exchange Rate Dynamics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1161-76, December.
- Barry Eichengreen., 1989.
"The Gold Standard Since Alec Ford,"
Economics Working Papers
89-120, University of California at Berkeley.
- Eichengreen, Barry, 1989. "The Gold Standard Since Alec Ford," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt91z49066, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Eichengreen, Barry, 1989. "The Gold Standard Since Alec Ford," CEPR Discussion Papers 347, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Barry Eichengreen, 1989. "The Gold Standard Since Alec Ford," NBER Working Papers 3122, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Rotemberg, Julio J, 1982. "Sticky Prices in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(6), pages 1187-1211, December.
- Bela Balassa, 1964. "The Purchasing-Power Parity Doctrine: A Reappraisal," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72, pages 584.
- Helpman, Elhanan, 1981.
"An Exploration in the Theory of Exchange-Rate Regimes,"
3445091, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- Helpman, Elhanan, 1981. "An Exploration in the Theory of Exchange-Rate Regimes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 865-90, October.
- Michael D. Bordo & Finn E. Kydland, 1990.
"The Gold Standard as a Rule,"
NBER Working Papers
3367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Barsky, Robert B., 1987.
"The Fisher hypothesis and the forecastability and persistence of inflation,"
Journal of Monetary Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-24, January.
- Robert B. Barsky, 1986. "The Fisher Hypothesis and the Forecastability and Persistence of Inflation," NBER Working Papers 1927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Michael R. Darby & James R. Lothian & Arthur E. Gandolfi & Anna J. Schwartz & Alan C. Stockman, 1983.
"The International Transmission of Inflation,"
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number darb83-1, June.
- Alogoskoufis, George S & Smith, Ron, 1991. "The Phillips Curve, the Persistence of Inflation, and the Lucas Critique: Evidence from Exchange-Rate Regimes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1254-75, December.
- Charles L. Schultze, 1981. "Some Macro Foundations for Micro Theory," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 12(2), pages 521-592.
- Dooley, Michael P & Isard, Peter, 1980. "Capital Controls, Political Risk, and Deviations from Interest-Rate Parity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 370-84, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3943. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.