The "Gold Standard Paradox" and its Resolution

54 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2007 Last revised: 9 Sep 2010

See all articles by Willem H. Buiter

Willem H. Buiter

Citigroup New York; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Columbia University

Vittorio Grilli

Independent; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: November 1989


This paper analyzes Krugman's contention that there is a "gold standard paradox" in the speculative attack literature. The paradox occurs if a country's currency appreciates after it runs out of gold or equivalently if a speculative attack can happen only after the country "naturally" runs out of reserves. We first show that Krugman's paradox is a very general phenomenon which does not require mean reverting processes for the fundamentals and which can be present in discrete time models as well as in continuous time models. We present several specific cases in which the paradox occurs i.e. environments which do not support an equilibrium. Next we show that, contrary to Krugman's conjecture, it is not necessary to abandon the assumption of a perfectly fixed exchange rate in favor of a band system in order to recover a well-defined equilibrium. We propose two alternative ways of amending the model which produce an equilibrium and preserve the fixed exchange rate assumption.

Suggested Citation

Buiter, Willem H. and Grilli, Vittorio, The "Gold Standard Paradox" and its Resolution (November 1989). NBER Working Paper No. w3178. Available at SSRN:

Willem H. Buiter (Contact Author)

Citigroup New York

Citigroup Global Markets Inc
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Columbia University ( email )

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Vittorio Grilli


Ministero del Tesoro
Direzione Generale del Tesoro Capo del Servizio I via XX Settembre 97
Roma 00187

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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