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Monetary Sovereignty, Exchange Rates, and Capital Controls: The Trilemma in the Interwar Period

Author

Listed:
  • Maurice Obstfeld

    (Economics Department, University of California, Berkeley & NBER)

  • Jay C. Shambaugh

    (Department of Economics, Dartmouth College)

  • Alan M. Taylor

    (Department of Economics, University of California, Davis & NBER)

Abstract

The interwar period was marked by the end of the classical gold standard regime and new levels of macroeconomic disorder in the world economy. The interwar disorder often is linked to policies inconsistent with the constraint of the open-economy trilemmathe inability of policymakers simultaneously to pursue a fixed exchange rate, open capital markets, and autonomous monetary policy. The first two objectives were linchpins of the pre-1914 order. As increasingly democratic polities faced pressures to engage in domestic macroeconomic management, however, either currency pegs or freedom of capital movements had to yield. This historical analytic narrative is compellingwith significant ramifications for today's world, if truebut empirically controversial. We apply theory and empirics to the interwar data and find strong support for the logic of the trilemma. Thus, an inability to pursue consistent policies in a rapidly changing political and economic environment appears central to an understanding of the interwar crises, and the same constraints still apply today.

Suggested Citation

  • Maurice Obstfeld & Jay C. Shambaugh & Alan M. Taylor, 2004. "Monetary Sovereignty, Exchange Rates, and Capital Controls: The Trilemma in the Interwar Period," International Finance 0407008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpif:0407008
    Note: 41 pages
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • N10 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - General, International, or Comparative

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