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Golden FettersThe Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939$
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Barry Eichengreen

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195101133

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195101138.001.0001

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(p.3) 1 Introduction
Golden Fetters

Barry Eichengreen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The gold standard is conventionally portrayed as synonymous with financial stability, and its downfall, starting in 1929, is implicated in the global financial crisis and the worldwide depression. A central message of this book is that precisely the opposite was true: far from being synonymous with stability, the gold standard itself was the principal threat to financial stability and economic prosperity between the World Wars I and II. To understand why, it is necessary first to appreciate why the interwar gold standard worked so poorly when its prewar predecessor had worked so well, next, to identify the connections between the gold standard and the Great Depression, and finally, to show that the removal of the gold standard in the 1930s established the preconditions for recovery from the Depression. These are the three tasks undertaken in the book (which is arranged chronologically), and they are summarized in the sections of this introductory chapter.

Keywords:   economic instability, economic stability, financial instability, financial stability, gold standard, Great Depression, interwar period, World War I, World War II

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