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Title: Gold in the interwar monetary system : evolution of the gold-standard regime
Author: Urban, Scott Andrew
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 1580
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis is motivated by discrepancies between the modem account of currency policies in the 1930s and the policies described by a contemporary, Ragnar Nurkse. The former emphasises a newfound policy independence, the latter a continuance of gold-standard constraints. Main contributions are empirical results, application of existing methodologies to historical data, use of previously unpublished data, and new theoretical analysis. Paper One presents evidence of persistent monetary conservatism in the 1930s. Statutory obligations to limit the supply of base money to a multiple of international assets were eased with the loss of gold convertibility (circa Britain's 1931 devaluation) but eliminated only in Germany, Italy and Greece. A central hypothesis of this dissertation is that collateralization of 1930s central bank money was standard practice, as before WWI. Paper Two tests whether 1930s central banks were more willing to sterilize reserve losses compared to the gold standard. It finds the odds of sterilization indistinguishable except where banks enacted strict capital controls. A minority of 1930s central banks did so. Paper Three applies the modem methodology of exchange-rate regime classification to interwar currency regimes. Post-gold observations are compared with the gold standard and observations preceding it. The results suggest that 1930s currencies were pegged, whereas the modem literature describes these as managed-floating. The three papers provide support both for the modem literature and for Nurkse. They confirm the former's emphasis on a dysfunctional gold standard. Yet they modify this literature's description of the ensuing regimes; here they support Nurkse's criticism of 1930s central bankers' inability more aggressively to cast aside their golden fetters. This thesis suggests that such behaviour might reflect a contemporary reluctance to embrace more fully the concept of un-backed money, which if true might indicate an evolved practice of the gold standard.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available