The Glitter of Gold: France, Bimetallism, and the Emergence by Marc Flandreau

By Marc Flandreau

Counting on new statistical and archival fabric, this ebook tells the tale of the operation of the foreign financial process of the mid-nineteenth century. It seeks to provide an explanation for how the program used to be in a position to climate the influence of the California and Australia gold discoveries.

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Extra resources for The Glitter of Gold: France, Bimetallism, and the Emergence of the International Gold Standard, 1848-1873

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Fig. The commercial ratio in London (1800–1900) Source: Statistical Annexes. 14 It should be clear that this typology refers to the ‘nominal’ standard. In practice, certain countries, such as Austria, Russia, Italy, or the United States, at various periods found themselves in a regime of non-convertible paper money. For a more detailed treatment of the different metallic blocs and their convergence on the Gold Standard, see Eichengreen and Flandreau (1996a, b). 5. This degree of fluctuation is comparable, say, to that permitted by the European Monetary System until July 1993, but unlike the EMS which experienced recurrent devaluations, the parity between gold and silver was never altered.

Yet this did not prevent the occurrence of major adjustments on a global scale, including giant specie flows spreading from country to country. Morever, the years when this process occurred were happy times for Europe. It was a period when the Continent's industrial progress accelerated, international trade expanded massively, and the first steps on the road to Europe's economic and financial unity took place. Not only did the pre-Gold Standard regime operate smoothly; it also coincided with prosperity.

This possibly explains the lengthy debates that always preluded the setting of a suitable ratio. It may also account for the confusion that has surrounded controversies on bimetallism. Needs and resources, that is, supply and demand or ‘the market’ do in a sense impose constraints on bimetallism by influencing the range of acceptable ratios. Thus while the ‘authorities’ fix the ratio, the ‘market’ fixes the bimetallic boundaries, thereby validating or not the lawmakers’ decision. 4. COORDINATION The previous section showed that the theoretical motivation for a legal ratio lies in the indeterminacy of bimetallic equilibria.

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