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Was Adherence to the Gold Standard a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" During the Interwar Period?

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  • Michael Bordo
  • Michael Edelstein

Abstract

World War I dramatically altered the world's financial landscape. Most countries left the gold standard, and New York replaced London as the major lender in world capital markets. This paper discusses how the gold exchange standard was reconstructed in the 1920s. We show that the U.S. capital market viewed returning to the gold standard as a signal of financial rectitude, what we have referred to in other work as a 'Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.' When countries returned to gold, especially when they did so at the prewar parity, they were rewarded with the ability to borrow at substantially lower interest rates. Other signals of financial rectitude, such as small fiscal deficits, apparently carried little weight with lenders.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Bordo & Michael Edelstein, 1999. "Was Adherence to the Gold Standard a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" During the Interwar Period?," NBER Working Papers 7186, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7186
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bordo Michael D. & Kydland Finn E., 1995. "The Gold Standard As a Rule: An Essay in Exploration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 423-464, October.
    2. Bordo, Michael D. & Rockoff, Hugh, 1996. "The Gold Standard as a “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 389-428, June.
    3. Michael D. Bordo, 1993. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: A Historical Overview," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 3-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1998. "The Rise and Fall of a Barbarous Relic: The Role of Gold in the International Monetary SYstem," NBER Working Papers 6436, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marc Flandreau & Juan H. Flores & Norbert Gaillard & Sebastián Nieto-Parra, 2010. "The End of Gatekeeping: Underwriters and the Quality of Sovereign Bond Markets, 1815-2007," NBER Chapters,in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2009, pages 53-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nikolaus Wolf, 2010. "Europe's Great Depression: coordination failure after the First World War," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 339-369, Autumn.
    3. Jean-Baptiste Desquilbet & Nikolay Nenovsky, 2005. "Confiance et ajustement dans les régimes d'étalon-or et de caisse d'émission," Mondes en développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 130(2), pages 77-93.
    4. Foley-Fisher, Nathan & McLaughlin, Eoin, 2016. "Capitalising on the Irish land question: land reform and state banking in Ireland, 1891–1938," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(01), pages 71-109, April.
    5. 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.
    6. Bordo, Michael D. & Schwartz, Anna J., 2000. "Measuring real economic effects of bailouts: historical perspectives on how countries in financial distress have fared with and without bailouts," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 81-167, December.
    7. Daniela Bragoli & Camilla Ferretti & Piero Ganugi & Giancarlo Ianulardo, 2013. "Monetary regimes and statistical regularity: the Classical Gold Standard (1880-1913) through the lenses of Markov models," Discussion Papers 1301, Exeter University, Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2007. "Scylla and Charybdis: the European economy and Poland's adherence to gold, 1928-1936," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19659, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Nathan Foley-Fisher & Eoin McLaughlin, 2013. "Irish Land Bonds: 1891-1938," ESE Discussion Papers 239, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    11. Papadia, Andrea, 2017. "Sovereign defaults during the Great Depression: the role of fiscal fragility," Economic History Working Papers 68943, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    12. Chouliarakis, George, 2003. "Unemployment and Capital Accumulation in Interwar Britain," Economics Discussion Papers 8864, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    13. Michael D. Bordo & Harold James, 2000. "The International Monetary Fund: Its Present Role in Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 7724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Michael Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1999. "Is our Current International Economic Environment Unusually Crisis Prone?," RBA Annual Conference Volume,in: David Gruen & Luke Gower (ed.), Capital Flows and the International Financial System Reserve Bank of Australia.
    15. Maurice Obstfeld & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "Globalization and Capital Markets," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 121-188 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Arola, Mika, 2006. "Foreign capital and Finland : central government's firstperiod of reliance on international financial markets 1862-1938," Scientific Monographs, Bank of Finland, number 37/2006, December.
    17. Wolf, Nikolaus, 2008. "Scylla and Charybdis. Explaining Europe's exit from gold, January 1928-December 1936," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 383-401, September.
    18. Bordo, Michael D. & MacDonald, Ronald, 2003. "The inter-war gold exchange standard: credibility and monetary independence," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 1-32, February.
    19. Singleton,John, 2010. "Central Banking in the Twentieth Century," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521899093, April.
    20. Lazaretou, Sophia, 2005. "The drachma, foreign creditors, and the international monetary system: tales of a currency during the 19th and the early 20th centuries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 202-236, April.
    21. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Douglas A. Irwin, 1999. "Is Globalization Today Really Different than Globalization a Hunderd Years Ago?," NBER Working Papers 7195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. Sophia Lazaretou, 2004. "The Drachma, Foreign Creditors and the International Monetary System: Tales of a Currency during the 19th and the Early 20th Century," Working Papers 16, Bank of Greece.
    23. Kirsten Wandschneider & Nikolaus Wolf, 2010. "Shooting on a moving target: explaining European bank rates during the interwar period," International Journal of Economics and Business Research, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(1/2), pages 31-48.

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    JEL classification:

    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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