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The disintegration of the Gold Exchange Standard during the Great Depression – déjà vu for the eurozone?

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JournalGeschichte und Gesellschaft
DatePublished - 2013
Issue number2
Volume39
Pages (from-to)153-176
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

After the onset of the Great Recession in autumn 2008, the Great Depression of the 1930s quickly developed into the historical episode most often evoked to explain current events and, potentially, predict the future. An important part of the Great Depression was the breakdown of the gold exchange standard between 1931 and 1936; the end of this system of fixed exchange rates – and the ensuing cycle of competitive devaluations – was seen by most contemporaries as beggar-thy-neighbour policies and hence as deepening the depression, but economic historians today see the abandonment of the gold standard as one if not the most important factor in exiting the Great Depression. In this paper, we explain causes and consequences of the breakdown of the interwar gold standard; and ask whether it entails any lessons for the on-going euro crisis.

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