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Emerging from the war: Gold Standard mentality, current accounts and the international business cycle 1885-1939


  • Mathias Hoffmann
  • Ulrich Woitek


We study international business cycles and capital flows in the UK, the United States and the Emerging Periphery in the period 1885-1939. Based on the same set of parameters, our model explains current account dynamics under both the Classical Gold Standard and during the Interwar period. We interpret this as evidence for Gold Standard mentality: the expectation formation mechanism with respect to major macroeconomic variables driving the current account – output, exchange rates and interest rates – has remained fundamentally stable between the two periods. Nonetheless, the macroeconomic environment changed: Volatility increased generally, but less so for international capital flows than for GDP. This pattern is consistent with shocks in the Interwar period becoming more persistent and more global.

Suggested Citation

  • Mathias Hoffmann & Ulrich Woitek, 2011. "Emerging from the war: Gold Standard mentality, current accounts and the international business cycle 1885-1939," ECON - Working Papers 057, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:057

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kano, Takashi, 2009. "Habit formation and the present-value model of the current account: Yet another suspect," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 72-85, June.
    2. Aguiar, Mark & Gopinath, Gita, 2007. "Emerging Market Business Cycles: The Cycle is the Trend," Scholarly Articles 11988098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    3. Kano, Takashi, 2008. "A structural VAR approach to the intertemporal model of the current account," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 757-779, September.
    4. Maurico Obstfeld, 2004. "External adjustment," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 140(4), pages 541-568, December.
    5. Christopher M. Meissner & Alan M. Taylor, 2006. "Losing our marbles in the new century?: the great rebalancing in historical perspective," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, vol. 51.
    6. Johansen, Soren, 1995. "Likelihood-Based Inference in Cointegrated Vector Autoregressive Models," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774501.
    7. Nason, James M & Rogers, John H, 2002. "Investment and the Current Account in the Short Run and the Long Run," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 34(4), pages 967-986, November.
    8. Obstfeld,Maurice & Taylor,Alan M., 2005. "Global Capital Markets," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671798, March.
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    11. Mathias Hoffmann, 2003. "International macroeconomic fluctuations and the current account," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 36(2), pages 401-420, May.
    12. Wright, Mark L. J., 2004. "Global Capital Markets: Integration, Crisis, and Growth. By Maurice Obstfeld and Alan M. Taylor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Pp. xviii, 354. $65," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(04), pages 1151-1153, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Samuel Cudré & Mathias Hoffmann, 2017. "A provincial view of global imbalances: regional capital flows in China," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 153(3), pages 573-599, August.

    More about this item


    Current accounts; capital flows; business cycles; Great Depression; Gold Standard; emerging markets; present-value models;

    JEL classification:

    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F36 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Financial Aspects of Economic Integration
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

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