The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines some popular explanations for the smooth operation of the pre-1914 gold standard. We find that the rapid adjustment of economies to underlying disturbances played an important role in stabilizing output and employment under the gold standard system, but no evidence that this success also reflected relatively small underlying disturbances. Finally, the paper also suggests an explanation for the evolution of the international monetary system based on growing nominal inertia over time.