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Saving, Investment, and Gold: A Reassessment of Historical Current Account Data

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  • Matthew T. Jones
  • Maurice Obstfeld

Abstract

This paper revises pre-World War II current account data for thirteen countries by treating gold flows on a consistent basis. The standard historical data sources often fail to distinguish between monetary gold exports, which are capital-account credits, and nonmonetary gold exports, which are current-account credits. The paper also adjusts historical investment data to account for changes in inventories. The revised data are used to construct estimates of saving and investment over the period from 1850 to 1945. Our methodology for removing monetary gold flows from the current account leads naturally to a gold-standard version of the Feldstein-Horioka hypothesis on capital mobility. The regression results are in broad agreement with those of Eichengreen, who found a significantly positive cross-sectional correlation between saving and investment even during some periods when the gold standard prevailed. Despite reaching broadly similar conclusions, we estimate correlations between saving and investment that are somewhat lower and less significant than those Eichengreen found. In particular, we find that in comparison to other interwar subsamples, the saving-investment correlation is markedly low during the fleeting years of a revived world gold standard, 1925-1930.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew T. Jones & Maurice Obstfeld, 1997. "Saving, Investment, and Gold: A Reassessment of Historical Current Account Data," NBER Working Papers 6103, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6103 Note: IFM ITI
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordà, Òscar & Schularick, Moritz & Taylor, Alan M., 2011. "When Credit Bites Back: Leverage, Business Cycles, and Crises," CEPR Discussion Papers 8678, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "Sovereign risk, credibility and the gold standard: 1870-1913 versus 1925-31," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(487), pages 241-275, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Dabrowski, Marek, 2006. "Rethinking balance-of-payments constraints in a globalized world," MPRA Paper 11962, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Chiţu, Livia & Eichengreen, Barry & Mehl, Arnaud, 2014. "When did the dollar overtake sterling as the leading international currency? Evidence from the bond markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 225-245.
    6. Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2002. "Globalization and Inequality: Historical Trends," Aussenwirtschaft, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science, Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economics Research, vol. 57(01), pages 65-104, March.
    7. Gossé, Jean-Baptiste & Serranito, Francisco, 2014. "Long-run determinants of current accounts in OECD countries: Lessons for intra-European imbalances," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, pages 451-462.
    8. Bertrand BLANCHETON (CMHE-IFReDE-GRES) & Samuel MAVEYRAUD-TRICOIRE (Université Bordeaux IV), 2006. "The indicators of international financial integration: A set of convergent measures (In French)," Cahiers du GRES (2002-2009) 2006-13, Groupement de Recherches Economiques et Sociales.
    9. Moritz Schularick & Thomas Steger, 2006. "Does Financial Integration Spur Economic Growth? New Evidence from the First Era of Financial Globalization," CESifo Working Paper Series 1691, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Dwyer, Gerald P. & Devereux, John & Baier, Scott & Tamura, Robert, 2013. "Recessions, growth and banking crises," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 18-40.
    11. Dwyer, Gerald P & Devereux, John & Baier, Scott L. & Tamura, Robert, 2013. "Recessions, Growth and Financial Crises," MPRA Paper 48843, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Oct 2012.
    12. Paul De Grauwe & Magdalena Polan, 2000. "Increased Capital Mobility - A Challenge for National Macroeconomic Policies," International Economics Working Papers Series wpie012, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Centrum voor Economische Studiën, International Economics.
    13. Moritz Schularick, 2006. "A tale of two 'globalizations': capital flows from rich to poor in two eras of global finance," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(4), pages 339-354.
    14. Apergis, Nicholas & Tsoumas, Chris, 2009. "A survey of the Feldstein-Horioka puzzle: What has been done and where we stand," Research in Economics, Elsevier, pages 64-76.
    15. Guillermo Javier Vúletin, 2002. "Regímenes Cambiarios y Performance Fiscal ¿Generan los Regímenes Fijos Mayor Disciplina que los Flexibles?," Department of Economics, Working Papers 042, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    16. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Jongwoo Kim, 1998. "Was There Really an Earlier Period of International Financial Integration Comparable to Today?," NBER Working Papers 6738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Moritz Schularick & Thomas M Steger, 2010. "Financial Integration, Investment, and Economic Growth: Evidence from Two Eras of Financial Globalization," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 756-768, November.
    18. Andrew Ang & Angela Maddaloni, 2005. "Do Demographic Changes Affect Risk Premiums? Evidence from International Data," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(1), pages 341-380, January.
    19. Ang, Andrew & Maddaloni, Angela, 2003. "Do demographic changes affect risk premiums? Evidence from international data," Working Paper Series 208, European Central Bank.
    20. Guillermo J. Vuletin, 2004. "Exchange Rate Regimes And Fiscal Performance. Do Fixed Exchange Rate Regimes Generate More Discipline Than Flexible Ones?," Econometric Society 2004 North American Winter Meetings 474, Econometric Society.
    21. Schularick, Moritz & Steger, Thomas M., 2008. "The Lucas Paradox and the quality of institutions: then and now," Discussion Papers 2008/3, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements

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