Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 June 2015
We use a standard metric from international finance, the currency risk premium, to assess the credibility of fixed exchange rates during the classical gold standard era. Theory suggests that a completely credible and permanent commitment to join the gold standard would have zero currency risk or no expectation of devaluation. We find that, even five years after a typical emerging-market country joined the gold standard, the currency risk premium averaged at least 220 basis points. Fixed-effects, panel-regression estimates that control for a variety of borrower-specific factors also show large and positive currency risk premia. In contrast to core gold standard countries, such as France and Germany, the persistence of large premia, long after gold standard adoption, suggest that financial markets did not view the pegs in emerging markets as credible and expected that they devaluation.
We thank Scott Potter, Julie Van Tighem, and Mindy Ngo for research assistance; Christian Echeverria, Aldo Musacchio, Luciano Pezzolo, Matthias Morys, Christian van Rysselberghe, and Gail Triner for assistance with data, and the National Science Foundation for financial support. We also thank Brock Blomberg, Richard Burdekin, Fabio Ghironi, James Nason, Helen Popper, Angela Redish, Hugh Rockoff, Tom Willett, and conference and seminar participants at the ASSA meetings, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Monetary History Workshop, Cambridge University, Stanford University, and the Political Economy of International Finance Meetings for comments and suggestions.