Currency Convertibility: The Gold Standard and Beyond

By Jorge Braga De Macedo; Barry Eichengreen et al. | Go to book overview

COMMENT

Pablo Martin-Aceña

Portuguese currency history during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is rich and varied. Portugal is a peripheral country, a late developer closely integrated in the European economy, through its priviliged relations with the United Kingdom, and with special links with Brazil. The reading of Portugal's experience reveals many common features with international experience, but also considerable differences, which makes Portugal an interesting and intriguing case study. Curiously enough, Portugal was the first nation to join the United Kingdom on the gold standard in 1854 and the last to restore gold convertibility in 1931. Although the three papers included in Part III of this volume deal with the monetary history of Portugal, they are different in kind. Chapter 8, by Mata and Valério, is an overview of 150 years of the nation's currency events, which basically underscores the importance of the international monetary regime for a country's economic development, while the other two papers confront the issue of Portugal's decisions to join the gold standard in 1854 and 1931.

As indicated by Mata and Valério, their paper tries to assess the relations between public finance, monetary evolution and economic performance in the long run (from 1854 to present times). To accomplish such an imposing task, they divide the period into several shorter phases, in order to offer a detailed account of what happened to each of the economic and financial variables they have selected (GDP, prices, the exchange rate, the money supply, the balance of payments and the budget). They present the data in Table 8.2 and discuss the sources and the problems of the series under Technical Remarks.

Mata and Valério point out three main features of Portugal's monetary experience: first, that all series-GDP, money, prices and the exchange rate-exhibit a long-term upward trend; second, that growth seems to have been inversely associated with inflation, and hardly related to the evolution of the money supply or the exchange rate; and third, that monetary variables maintained a close association with both the budget deficit and the position of the external account. As a final conclusion they add that the 'Portuguese experience since the mid-nineteenth century confirms that money is clearly

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Currency Convertibility: The Gold Standard and Beyond
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Figures vii
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Part I - Overview 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • 2 - The Operation of the Specie Standard 11
  • Part II - Myths and Realities of the Gold Standard 85
  • 3 - The Origins of the Gold Standard 87
  • 4 - Short-Term Capital Movements Under the Gold Standard 102
  • 5 - The Geography of the Gold Standard 113
  • Comment 144
  • Comment 151
  • Part III - Portuguese Currency Experience 157
  • 6 - First to Join the Gold Standard, 1854 159
  • 7 - Last to Join the Gold Standard, 1931 182
  • 8 - Monetary Stability, Fiscal Discipline and Economic Performance 204
  • Comment 228
  • Comment 233
  • Part IV - Implications for Europe in the 1990s 239
  • 9 - Converging Towards a European Currency Standard 241
  • Index 266
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