Knut Wicksell: Selected Essays in Economics - Vol. 2

By Knut Wicksell; Bo Sandelin | Go to book overview

21

THE SCANDINAVIAN MONETARY SYSTEM AFTER THE {FIRST WORLD} WAR

Of all kinds of international cooperation in the economic sphere, a common monetary system is undoubtedly the one that is easiest to accomplish from a theoretical point of view, and also the one where the greatest progress has already been made in practical, real terms. It can even be said without exaggeration that before the outbreak of this disastrous war, the entire civilized world had already achieved a state in which it lived under a single monetary system. The varying size and value of the gold coins used in the countries that had adopted the gold standard naturally had little significance, even if their adjustment in line with somewhat simpler arithmetical ratios would have been a gain of the same kind as, for example, the possible acceptance of the metric system by the Anglo-American world. However, the most important point had been won by the general transition to a common monetary metal, since of course by this means the potential variation in the value of currencies from their respective par values was necessarily confined within the bounds of the so-called gold points, which became narrower and narrower as communications improved. For those countries, in turn, which had not yet adopted or fully succeeded in implementing the gold standard in the strict sense of the term—India, Mexico, Austria, and so on—the system of the gold exchange standard, which is of such great theoretical interest, proved to be a very valuable substitute.

In these circumstances, the even closer monetary association that some groups of nations succeeded in carrying through, such as the countries of the Latin Monetary Union and from 1873-5 onwards the Scandinavian countries, was, in itself, of no very great importance. The decision that each country’s gold coins should quite simply be legal tender in the other countries belonging to the group in question of course entailed that the expense of sending gold was limited to just transportation and insurance costs, so that

Originally published as ‘Det skandinaviska penningväsendet efter kriget’, Bidrag till frågan om ett ekonomiskt närmande mellan de skandinaviska länderna. Inlägg av skandinaviska ekonomer, 1917.

-71-

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