The Gold Standard and the Great Depression
This paper, written primarily for historians, attempts to explain why political leaders and central bankers continued to adhere to the gold standard as the Great Depression intensified. We do not focus on the effects of the gold standard on the Depression, which we and others have documented elsewhere, but on the reasons why policy makers chose the policies they did. We argue that the mentality of the gold standard was pervasive and compelling to the leaders of the interwar economy. It was expressed and reinforced by the discourse among these leaders. It was opposed and finally defeated by mass politics, but only after the interaction of national policies had drawn the world into the Great Depression.