NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Gold Standard Since Alec Ford

Barry Eichengreen

NBER Working Paper No. 3122
Issued in September 1989
NBER Program(s):   ITI   IFM

This paper surveys studies of the operation of the classical gold standard published subsequent to the appearance of Alec Ford's The Gold Standard 1880-1914: Britain and Argentina in 1962. Contributions tend to fall under two headings: those which emphasize stock equilibrium in money markets (examples of the so-called "monetary approach") and those which emphasize instead stockflow interactions in bond markets. The paper then addresses the perennial question of how the gold standard worked. A central element of my explanation for the stability of the gold standard at the center is the credibility of the official commitment to gold. Knowing that policymakers would intervene in defense of the gold standard, markets responded in the same direction in anticipation of official action. Hence the need for actual intervention was minimized. Credibility derived from the fact that the commitment to the gold standard was international. Central banks like the Bank of England could rely on foreign assistance in times of exceptional stress. Again, the need for actual assistance was minimized because the commitment to offer it was fully credible. Thus, international cooperation is a central element of my explanation of how the classical gold standard worked.

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Published:

  • Capital, Labor and Gold: Essays in Honor of Alec Ford; Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992 ,
  • The Gold Standard in Theory and History, Eichengreen, Barry and Marc Flandreau, eds., second edition, Rowdedge, 1997 (abridged version reprinted

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