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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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Reconstructing the Facade

Reconstructing the Facade

(p.153) 6 Reconstructing the Facade
Golden Fetters

Barry Eichengreen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter (like the previous one) looks at the fiscal war of attrition that fueled inflation in the 1920s; here, inflationary chaos elsewhere in Europe is contrasted with the experience of countries that repelled the inflationary threat. The different sections of the chapter discuss the first (failed) attempts to restore the gold standard after World War I and the failure to provide a framework for international cooperation, deflationary paths (in Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands), inflation (in Belgium), the inflationary crisis in France, and the enduring effects of these. Recovery was more rapid in countries that experienced inflation and depreciation (notably France, Belgium, and Italy) than in those that had pursued deflation in order to stabilize their currencies and restore the prewar gold price. In countries where the fiscal war of attrition had been most destructive, political leaders and their constituencies insisted on going to exceptional lengths to prevent the ceasefire from breaking down. The gold standard was the white flag emblematic of the truce, and policy makers continued to wave it even after political economic circumstances had changed fundamentally and an entirely different policy response was required.

Keywords:   Belgium, Britain, currency stabilization, deflation, economic policy, economic stabilization, Europe, France, gold standard, inflation, interwar period, Netherlands, Sweden

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