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Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939 (Nber Series on Long-Term Factors in Economic Development) Paperback – February 8, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0195101133 ISBN-10: 0195101138

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Product Details

  • Series: Nber Series on Long-Term Factors in Economic Development
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 8, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195101138
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195101133
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 5.9 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A brilliant new book."--Robert J. Samuelson, in Newsweek

"Very highly recommended."--Choice

"Important and convincingly argued....Even those who are not sympathetic to the arguments and conclusions of this book will agree that it is destined to be an important work for all future students of the gold standard."--Journal of Economic Issues

"An important book....There is no doubt...that economists and economic historians are in Eichengreen's debt. This is a fine book which supercedes all the literature in the field. Money has been devalued in some recent surveys of the international depression of the 1930s. Eichengreen has brought it back to the center of the story, which is where it belongs."--Economica

"Eichengreen has produced an excellent economic history of the interwar years which will be read with great interest by all students of the period. His account of the gold standard during this dramatic period is based on wide ranging research and is exceptional in its clarity....This volume will remain the standard history of the gold standard for many years to come."--Times Higher Education Supplement

"A tour de force, by the outstanding contemporary scholar of the 20th century history of the international monetary system."--John Williamson, Senior Fellow, Institute for International Economics

"This stimulating book is notable for its integration of political and economic analysis in helping us to understand the weakneses of the gold standard in the interwar period."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"[Golden Fetters] may become a standard reference for years to come."--Research Reports, American Institute for Economic Research

"Golden Fetters compels us to reexamine familiar ideas about economic pathology in the interwar period and the way the gold standard functioned before the First World War. Eichengreen offers us new views of old problems. This is the most important contribution to the subject since the works of Brown and Nurkse, more than four decades ago."--Peter B. Kenen, Houblon-Kenen Fellow, Bank of England

"Eichengreen illuminates the role of the gold standard in his masterly analysis of the global economic and political forces that produced the Great Depression and economic recovery after 1933."--Anna J. Schwartz, National Bureau of Economic Research

About the Author


Barry Eichengreen is the John L. Simpson Professor of Economics and Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Berkeley, and Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. He has written a number of books on international monetary issues and economic history, including Elusive Stability: Essays in the History of International Finance (1990).

More About the Author

Barry Eichengreen is George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, NBER Research Associate, and CEPR Research Fellow. He was formerly Senior Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund (Washington, D.C.), fellow of the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (Palo Alto), and fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Berlin). He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He writes a monthly column for Project Syndicate and periodic columns for Estadao Sao Paulo (Brazil), Finanz und Wirtschaft (Switzerland), Handelsblatt (Germany), and Eurointelligence (in Europe). He is past president of the Economic History Association, winner of the Schumpeter Prize of the International Schumpeter Society. and has been named one of the 100 most important public intellectuals by Foreign Policy Magazine. You can follow his tweets at b_eichengreeen@twitter.com.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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The book is a bit dense, but well worth the slug.
Law student
After the crash, we get down to the Great Depression and who fared the best.
M. Mcfarland
Very in depth analysis of depression era historical events.
Brian K. Bond

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By M. Mcfarland on August 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Barry Eichengreen's classic tale of financial hubris and mismanagement is almost ten years old. But it's still riveting. It's a broad-sweep introduction for generalists and financial buffs alike. And it's very well written too.
The book begins by describing the inner workings of the gold standard and how it evolved from its inception in the 1800s. This part may be a bit dry for generalists, but once underway all the terms become quite easy to understand. It's worth persevering since WW1changed the way the world worked. In particular, the after effects of the war made staying on gold much more difficult for countries experiencing persistent balance of payments deficits.
After that, Eichengreen goes on a tour of the interwar years and aims to show why the collapse of the gold standard and the plunge into depression had nothing to do with the US stock market and everything to do with rivalries and mismanagment on an international scale. The US crash was a symptom of an international crisis, not the cause.
All the classic powderkegs are there. The UK's mindless attempt to rejoin the gold standard at the overvalued, pre-war rate. Vindictive French domestic politics and the hyperinflations in continental Europe. Vindictive French attempts to humiliate the Germans over reparations. Bank runs in Germany and Austria. French and American attempts to bend the rules of the Gold Standard for their own national interests. Wild swings in capital flows from Europe to the US and back again. And the cataclysmic days of 1931 when the whole system collapsed under the weight of banking crises and currency contagion - in ways very similar to Asia in 1997.
After the crash, we get down to the Great Depression and who fared the best. This part is much shorter since it isn't as complicated.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
Eichengreen does it again. His easy-reading prose takes the reader through the monetary meanders of the post-WWI scenario, alternating historical narrative with clear, in-depth looks into economic theory and economic thought. The book features a comprehensive analysis of the intricacies of the interwar gold standard. The international conferences, the German hyperinflation, the roller-coaster of the Franc between 1924 and 1926 and the monetary determinants of the Great Depression are studied with extreme accuracy. This magnificient account will not disappoint either the academic reader or the learned non-specialist.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on July 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a landmark, masterpiece economics study of the Great Depression and the effects of the disastrous gold standard in partly causing the Great Depression, along with the Federal Reserve contracting the money supply, related to the flawed gold standard. The data shows how the gold standard strangled the money supply, how countries that abandoned the gold standard first recovered first and the ones that stayed longer recovered later. This is the most important analysis yet of the causes and severity of the Great depression. This book is intended for advanced students of this subject and is probably not for casual reading.

Other essential books on the subject of the Great Depression economics are Essays on the Great Depression by Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve and a scholar of Great Depression economics, and Lessons from the Great Depression (Lionel Robbins Lectures) by Peter Temin, one of the leading early economists of the Great Depression (before Golden Fetters advanced the understanding further). Those books were also written for those able to grasp economics, although they can be read by average people if you focus on the conclusions and not the data leading to that.

The average reader wanting to read about the gold standard in a way that a general reader can understand should read the Pulitzer Prize-winning
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Law student on August 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very interesting book, especially in the current climate. The debate about maintaining a gold standard (or the euro) really highlights the difficulties that several EU countries will face if they stay in the euro. This book also highlights the tremendous pressure on all central bankers to strategically devalue their currency. Of course the great danger here is that this beggar-thy-neighbor policy will lead to trade tariffs and other tensions.

The book is a bit dense, but well worth the slug.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Carbone on March 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Eichengreen reviews the basis of the interwar gold standard well, providing the reader with a solid background to understand how it differed from the classical gold standard before WWI, and how it operated in practice. His detailed elaboration of the institutional struggles to reconstruct the pre-war financial system should be required reading for any interested in modern financial and economic history, and Eichengreen's conclusions have only become more relevant since its original publication in the context of contemporary events.
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