IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

How Long Did It Take the United States to Become an Optimal Currency Area?

  • Hugh Rockoff

    ()

    (Rutgers)

The United States is often taken to be the exemplar of the benefits of a monetary union. Since 1788 Americans, with the exception of the Civil War years, have been able to buy and sell goods, travel, and invest within a vast area without ever having to be concerned about changes in exchange rates. But there was also a recurring cost. A shock, typically in financial or agricultural markets, would hit one region particularly hard. The banking system in that region would lose reserves producing a monetary contraction that would aggravate the effects of the initial disturbance. Often, an interregional debate over monetary institutions would follow. The uncertainty created by the debate would further aggravate the contraction. During these episodes the United States might well have been better off if each region had had its own currency: changes in exchange rates could have secured equilibrium in interregional payments while monetary policy was directed toward internal stability. The United States, to put it differently, was not an optimal currency area. This pattern held until the 1930s when institutional changes, such as increased federal fiscal transfers and bank deposit insurance, changed the game. Political considerations, of course, ruled out separate regional currencies. But thinking about U.S. monetary history in this way clarifies the nature of the business cycle before World War II, and may suggest some lessons for other monetary unions.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: ftp://snde.rutgers.edu/Rutgers/wp/1999-10.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Rutgers University, Department of Economics in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 199910.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 02 Aug 1999
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:199910
Contact details of provider: Postal: New Jersey Hall - 75 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1248
Phone: (732) 932-7482
Fax: (732) 932-7416
Web page: http://snde.rutgers.edu/Rutgers/wp/rutgers-wplist.html

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.:

as in new window
  1. Charles Calomiris & David Wheelock, 1998. "Was the Great Depression a Watershed for American Monetary Policy?," NBER Chapters, in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 23-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, December.
  3. Wyplosz, Charles, 1997. "EMU: Why and How It Might Happen," CEPR Discussion Papers 1685, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Wallis, John Joseph, 1989. "Employment in the Great Depression: New data and hypotheses," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 45-72, January.
  5. Schweitzer, Mary M., 1989. "State-Issued Currency and the Ratification of the U.S. Consitution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(02), pages 311-322, June.
  6. Frieden, Jeffry A., 1997. "Monetary Populism in Nineteenth-Century America: An Open Economy Interpretation," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 367-395, June.
  7. Howard Bodenhorn & Hugh Rockoff, 1992. "Regional Interest Rates in Antebellum America," NBER Chapters, in: Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel, pages 159-187 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Forrest Capie, 1998. "Monetary Unions in Historical Perspective: What Future for the Euro in the International Financial System," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 447-466, January.
  9. Charles W. Calomiris, 1992. "Greenback Resumption and Silver Risk: The Economics and Politics of Monetary Regime Change in the United States, 1862-1900," NBER Working Papers 4166, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Thomas Willett & Edward Tower, 1970. "Currency areas and exchange-rate flexibility," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 105(1), pages 48-65, September.
  11. Friedman, Milton, 1990. "Bimetallism Revisited," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 85-104, Fall.
  12. Mundell, Robert A, 1997. "Currency Areas, Common Currencies, and EMU," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 214-16, May.
  13. Arthur J. Rolnick & Bruce D. Smith & Warren E. Weber, 1993. "In order to form a more perfect monetary union," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Fall, pages 2-13.
  14. Sushka, Marie Elizabeth, 1976. "The Antebellum Money Market and the Economic Impact of the Bank War," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 36(04), pages 809-835, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:rut:rutres:199910. 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 you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.