Currency Convertibility: The Gold Standard and Beyond

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

8

MONETARY STABILITY, FISCAL DISCIPLINE AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

The experience of Portugal since 1854

Eugénia Mata and Nuno Valério


AN OVERVIEW

Table 8.1 presents a summary of the behavior of the main variables related to economic performance, monetary evolution, foreign accounts and public finance in Portugal between 1854 and 1990. Besides the whole period under consideration, phases defined according to the behavior of the above-mentioned variables are considered. Annual data are presented in Table 8.2, followed by Technical Remarks.

The overall picture that emerges from this summary has five main features. First, all variables have long-term upward trends. Moreover, real per capita gross domestic product also presents a long-term upward trend, which means that Portugal has shared, at least during significant periods, the experience of modern economic growth.

Second, phases of higher inflation show on average a slower economic growth, or even decreases of activity, while phases of lower inflation, or of stable or even declining prices, are associated with faster real growth. When the inflation rate decreases from one phase to the next, real gross domestic product rises faster, and when the inflation rate increases from one phase to the next, growth slows down.

Third, phases of higher depreciation show on average slower economic growth, or even decreases of activity, while phases of lower depreciation, or of stable or even appreciating exchange rates, are associated with faster real growth. When the exchange rate has a higher rate of depreciation in one phase than in the preceding one, growth slows down, and when the exchange rate is more stable in one period than in the preceding one, real gross domestic product rises faster. There is, however, one exception: during World War II the exchange rate was as stable as during the preceding (and following) phases, but economic performance was clearly worse. The gold standard and 'belle époque' phases might seem to provide another such example, but the

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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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