Understanding the Gold Standard:
New Lessons from an Old Rule

a conference at the
University of Notre Dame
May 3-4, 2002

Sponsored by the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for
International Studies and Nanovic Institute for European Studies, and the
University of North Carolina's Center for European Studies.

Conference Organizers:
Layna Mosley (University of Notre Dame)
Roland Stephen (North Carolina State University)

Conference Summary

While there has been significant analysis of the origins of the pre-WWI gold standard, there has been less research into its consequences. A clear understanding of the long-term political and social
consequences of fixed monetary commitments is more important than ever, especially given the adoption of a single currency in Europe and the acceptance of currency boards and de facto dollarization in parts of the developing world. The project seeks to address the extent to which the collapse of the gold standard (and of the 19th Century liberal order as whole) was
endogenous to the political forces unleashed by its adoption.

More specifically, the papers analyze the implications of the gold standard for tariffs, sovereign debt, financial institutions, immigration, and imperialism. "Understanding the Gold Standard" will address a significant deficiency in the literature on credible monetary commitments. Existing studies often view the issue as a specific form of a time-inconsistency problem. Our approach takes a broader view, shared by others who analyze the political equilibria underpinning macro-economic stability pacts. The problems that flowed from such a commitment were political, and were multiplied as the number of parties to that commitment grew. Simply stated, the interests and institutions in place when the commitment was first adopted were inevitably disrupted by the spread of its operation.

Click here for a list of Participants and Papers

For more information about the Conference, contact Layna Mosley.

Page updated March 22, 2002