NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Price of Stability: The balance sheet policy of the Banque de France and the Gold Standard (1880-1914)

Guillaume Bazot, Michael D. Bordo, Eric Monnet

NBER Working Paper No. 20554
Issued in October 2014
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ME

Under the classical gold standard (1880-1914), the Bank of France maintained a stable discount rate while the Bank of England changed its rate very frequently. Why did the policies of these central banks, the two pillars of the gold standard, differ so much? How did the Bank of France manage to keep a stable rate and continuously violate the "rules of the game"? This paper tackles these questions and shows that the domestic asset portfolio of the Bank of France played a crucial role in smoothing international shocks and in maintaining the stability of the discount rate. This policy provides a striking example of a central bank that uses its balance sheet to block the interest rate channel and protect the domestic economy from international constraints (Mundell's trilemma).

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20554

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