Currency Convertibility: The Gold Standard and Beyond

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

COMMENT
Gianni TonioloThe papers by Reis, dos Santos, Mata and Valério can easily be read, and discussed, together: in fact, they seem to form the core of a comprehensive monetary history of Portugal. Or at least that is how I see them: my comments will be framed accordingly.From the authors' accounts-particularly that by Mata and Valério-the monetary history of modern Portugal appears to be broadly divided into nine main periods.
1. The opening gambit or 'first to join' move.
2. The gold standard years (1854-91).
3. The 1891-92 crisis (which, however, I would argue should be seen as part of the previous period).
4. A series of attempts at price and exchange rate stabilization (1891-1918).
5. Inflation and devaluation (1919-28).
6. Stabilization (1928-31).
7. Pegging (1931-45).
8. First mimicking, then joining the Bretton Woods Agreements (1945-74).
9. Inflation and stabilization (1974-90).
Reis and dos Santos deal with the two major pre-World War II episodes of exchange rate stabilization, while the other two authors take the long-run approach.Jaime Reis has produced a very clear and informative paper, to which I can add very little. He sees three main causes for the success of monetary stabilization and the introduction of (gold) convertibility in 1854:
1. a shift in world prices that made Portuguese bimetallism untenable, given the high legal ratio of silver to gold price, and the attendant realization (by 1853) that the problem would not disappear;
2. the fact that the problem of inconvertible paper money began to find a viable solution;
3. the virtuous role played by expectations once the monetary reform became a likely eventuality.

-233-

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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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