Business and Economics > Investments: Metals

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Mr. Johannes Wiegand
In the early 1870s, the global monetary system transitioned from bimetallism—a regime in which gold and silver currencies were tied at quasi-fixed exhange ratios—to the gold standard that was characterized by the use of (only) gold as the main currency metal by the largest and most advanced economies. The transition ocurred against the backdrop of both large supply shifts in global bullion markets in the 1850s and 60s and momentous political events, such as the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/71 and the subsequent foundation of the German empire. The causes for the transition have long been a matter of intense debate. This article discusses three separate but interrelated issues: (i) assessing the robustness of the pre-1870 bimetallic system to shocks—which includes a discussion of the appropriate use of Flandreau’s (1996) reference model; (ii) analyzing the transition from bimetallism to gold as a multi-stage currency game played by France and Germany; and (iii) evaluating the monetary debates at the German Handelstag conferences in the 1860s, to present a more complete narrative of the German discussion in the run-up to the transition.
International Monetary Fund

Abstract

The Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund were adopted at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference (Bretton Woods, New Hampshire) on July 22, 1944. They were originally accepted by 29 countries and since then have been signed and ratified by a total of 189 Member countries. As the charter of the organization, the Articles lay out the Fund’s purposes, which include the promotion of “international monetary cooperation through a permanent institution which provides the machinery for consultation and collaboration on international monetary problems”. The Articles also establish the mandate of the Organization and its members’ rights and obligations, its governance structure and roles of its organs, and lays out various rules of operations including those related to the conduct of its operations and transactions regarding the Special Drawing Rights. The key functions of the IMF are the surveillance of the international monetary system and the monitoring of members’ economic and financial policies, the provision of Fund resources to member countries in need, and the delivery of technical assistance and financial services. Since their adoption in 1944, the Articles of Agreement have been amended seven times, with the latest amendment adopted on December 15, 2010 (effective January 26, 2016). The Articles are complemented by the By-laws of the Fund adopted by the Board of Governors, themselves being supplemented by the Rules and Regulations adopted by the Executive Board.

Mr. Thomas J Sargent, Mr. George Hall, Mr. Martin Ellison, Mr. Andrew Scott, Mr. Harold James, Ms. Era Dabla-Norris, Mark De Broeck, Mr. Nicolas End, Ms. Marina Marinkov, and Vitor Gaspar

Abstract

World War I created a set of forces that affected the political arrangements and economies of all the countries involved. This period in global economic history between World War I and II offers rich material for studying international monetary and sovereign debt policies. Debt and Entanglements between the Wars focuses on the experiences of the United States, United Kingdom, four countries in the British Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Newfoundland), France, Italy, Germany, and Japan, offering unique insights into how political and economic interests influenced alliances, defaults, and the unwinding of debts. The narratives presented show how the absence of effective international collaboration and resolution mechanisms inflicted damage on the global economy, with disastrous consequences.