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A New World Order: Explaining the Emergence of the Classical Gold Standard

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  • Christopher M. Meissner

Abstract

The classical gold standard only gradually became an international monetary regime after 1870. This paper provides a cross-country analysis of why countries adopted when they did. I use duration analysis to show that network externalities operating through trade channels help explain the pattern of diffusion of the gold standard. Countries adopted the gold standard sooner when they had a large share of trade with other gold countries relative to GDP. The quality of the financial system also played a role. Support is found for the idea that a weak gold backing for paper currency emissions, possibly because of an unsustainable fiscal position or an un-sound banking system, delayed adoption. A large public debt burden also led to a later transition. Data are also consistent with the idea that nations adopted the gold standard earlier to lower the costs of borrowing on international capital markets. I find no evidence that the level of exchange rate volatility or agricultural interests mattered for the timing of adoption.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher M. Meissner, 2002. "A New World Order: Explaining the Emergence of the Classical Gold Standard," NBER Working Papers 9233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9233
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    Cited by:

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    2. Eichengreen, Barry, 2008. "Sui Generis EMU," CEPR Discussion Papers 6642, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Antoni Estevadeordal & Brian Frantz & Alan M. Taylor, 2003. "The Rise and Fall of World Trade, 1870–1939," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 118(2), pages 359-407.
    4. Kris James Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, 2008. "Trade and Empire," NBER Working Papers 13765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. António Portugal Duarte & João Sousa Andrade, 2012. "How the Gold Standard functioned in Portugal: an analysis of some macroeconomic aspects," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(5), pages 617-629, February.
    7. 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.
    8. João Sousa Andrade, 2004. "Régimes Monétaires et Théorie Quantitative du Produit Nominal au Portugal (1854 1998)," Notas Económicas, Faculty of Economics, University of Coimbra, issue 20, pages 63-88, December.
    9. Niall Ferguson & Moritz Schularick, 2005. "The Empire Effect: Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880-1913," Economic History 0509002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. S bastien W lti, 2005. "The duration of fixed exchange rate regimes," Trinity Economics Papers 2000518, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    11. Christopher M. Meissner, 2003. "Exchange-Rate Regimes and International Trade: Evidence from the Classical Gold Standard Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 344-353, March.
    12. Kupiec, Paul H. & Ramirez, Carlos D., 2013. "Bank failures and the cost of systemic risk: Evidence from 1900 to 1930," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 285-307.
    13. Mitchener, Kris James & Weidenmier, Marc D., 2010. "Supersanctions and sovereign debt repayment," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 19-36, February.
    14. Manmohan Agarwal, 2017. "The Operation of the Gold Standard in the Core and the Periphery Before the First World War," Working Papers id:12074, eSocialSciences.
    15. repec:tcd:wpaper:tep8 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Niall Ferguson & Moritz Schularick, 2004. "The Empire Effect: The Determinants of Country Risk in the First Age of Globalization, 1880-1913," Working Papers 04-03, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
    17. Kris James Mitchener & Marc D. Weidenmier, 2005. "Supersanctions and Sovereign Debt Repayment," NBER Working Papers 11472, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Sean Barrett, 2005. "Risk Equalisation and Competition in the Irish Health Insurance Market," Trinity Economics Papers 200058, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    19. Beth Simmons & Jens Hainmueller, 2005. "Can Domestic Institutions Explain Exchange Rate Regime Choice? The Political Economy of Monetary Institutions Reconsidered," International Finance 0505011, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    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. 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.

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    JEL classification:

    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

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