Credible Commitment and Exchange Rate Stability: Canada's Interwar Experience

39 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2007 Last revised: 25 Aug 2010

See all articles by Michael D. Bordo

Michael D. Bordo

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Angela Redish

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 1987

Abstract

In January 1929 the Canadian government suspended gold exports and began a floating exchange rate regime that endured until the onset of World War 11. In sharp contrast with the experience of other countries which left the gold standard, deflation and declining economic activity continued in Canada until 1933. This paper examines the determinants of the Canadian exchange rate in the 1930's and provides an answer to the question of why the Canadian dollar did not depreciate in the early 1930's despite Canada's de facto departure from the Gold Standard. We develop the answer in two stages. First, we show that the government made a clear commitment to maintain a contractionary monetary policy. It did so because it believed: that monetary expansion would increase the value of external obligations without reducing the value of domestic obligations; and that even if all contractual obligations were met, Canada would lose her reputation as a responsible debtor. Second, we argue that the government's commitment was viewed by the public as credible. The credible commitment dominated market agent's expectations of the evolution of the exchange rate.

Suggested Citation

Bordo, Michael D. and Redish, Angela, Credible Commitment and Exchange Rate Stability: Canada's Interwar Experience (November 1987). NBER Working Paper No. w2431. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=349231

Michael D. Bordo (Contact Author)

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics ( email )

New Brunswick, NJ
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Angela Redish

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Department of Economics ( email )

997-1873 East Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-2748 (Phone)
604-822-5915 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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