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Politics on the road to the U.S. monetary union

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  • Peter L. Rousseau

    (Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

Is political unity a necessary condition for a successful monetary union? The early United States seems a leading example of this principle. But the view is misleadingly simple. I review the historical record and uncover signs that the United States did not achieve a stable monetary union, at least if measured by a uniform currency and adequate safeguards against systemic risk, until well after the Civil War and probably not until the founding of the Federal Reserve. Political change and shifting policy positions end up as key factors in shaping the monetary union that did ultimately emerge.

Suggested Citation

  • Peter L. Rousseau, 2013. "Politics on the road to the U.S. monetary union," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 13-00006, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:vuecon-sub-13-00006
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rousseau, Peter L., 2002. "Jacksonian Monetary Policy, Specie Flows, And The Panic Of 1837," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 457-488, June.
    2. Calomiris, Charles W., 1988. "Institutional Failure, Monetary Scarcity, and the Depreciation of the Continental," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(1), pages 47-68, March.
    3. Farley Grubb, 2011. "State Redemption of the Continental Dollar, 1779-1790," NBER Working Papers 17209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Bordo, Michael D., 2012. "Could the United States have had a better central bank? An historical counterfactual speculation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 597-607.
    5. Rousseau, Peter L. & Sylla, Richard, 2005. "Emerging financial markets and early US growth," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, January.
    6. Cowen, David J., 2000. "The First Bank of the United States and the Securities Market Crash of 1792," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(4), pages 1041-1060, December.
    7. Grubb, Farley, 2008. "The Continental Dollar: How Much Was Really Issued?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 68(1), pages 283-291, March.
    8. Sylla, Richard, 2002. "Financial Systems And Economic Modernization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 277-292, June.
    9. Matthew Jaremski & Peter L. Rousseau, 2013. "Banks, Free Banks, And U.S. Economic Growth," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 51(2), pages 1603-1621, April.
    10. Rolnick, Arthur J & Weber, Warren E, 1983. "New Evidence on the Free Banking Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1080-1091, December.
    11. Bray Hammond, 1936. "Free Banks and Corporations: The New York Free Banking Act of 1838," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 184-184.
    12. Van Fenstermaker, J., 1965. "The Statistics of American Commercial Banking, 1782–1818," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 400-413, September.
    13. Peter L. Rousseau & Richard Sylla, 2003. "Financial Systems, Economic Growth, and Globalization," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 373-416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Sylla, Richard, 1969. "Federal Policy, Banking Market Structure, and Capital Mobilization in the United States, 1863–1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 29(4), pages 657-686, December.
    15. Rousseau, Peter L., 2006. "A common currency: early US monetary policy and the transition to the dollar," Financial History Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(01), pages 97-122, April.
    16. Matthew Jaremski, 2010. "Free Bank Failures: Risky Bonds versus Undiversified Portfolios," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 42(8), pages 1565-1587, December.
    17. Weber, Warren E., 2006. "Early State Banks in the United States: How Many Were There and When Did They Exist?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 66(2), pages 433-455, June.
    18. Peter L. Rousseau, 2007. "Backing, the Quantity Theory, and the Transition to the US Dollar, 1723–1850," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 266-270, May.
    19. Thomas J. Sargent, 2012. "Nobel Lecture: United States Then, Europe Now," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(1), pages 1-40.
    20. Bodenhorn,Howard, 2000. "A History of Banking in Antebellum America," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521662857, November.
    21. Wettereau, James O., 1942. "The Branches of the First Bank of the United States1," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(S1), pages 66-100, December.
    22. Gorton, Gary, 1996. "Reputation Formation in Early Bank Note Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(2), pages 346-397, April.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. “A fluid, ever-evolving, and organic process of improvement, misstep and improvement”: The Long Road to Monetary Union in the USA
      by Manuel Bautista in NEP-HIS blog on 2013-08-08 04:19:48

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    Cited by:

    1. Régis Breton & Mariana Rojas Breu & Vincent Bignon, 2013. "Monetary Union, Banks and Financial Integration," Post-Print hal-01685888, HAL.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    colonial currency; Bank of the United States; Jacksonian monetary policy; free banking; National Banking System; Federal Reserve System;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations
    • N2 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions

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