Business and Economics > Investments: Metals

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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


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.

Eric Monnet and Mr. Damien Puy
Why did monetary authorities hold large gold reserves under Bretton Woods (1944–1971) when only the US had to? We argue that gold holdings were driven by institutional memory and persistent habits of central bankers. Countries continued to back currency in circulation with gold reserves, following rules of the pre-WWII gold standard. The longer an institution spent in the gold standard (and the older the policymakers), the stronger the correlation between gold reserves and currency. Since dollars and gold were not perfect substitutes, the Bretton Woods system never worked as expected. Even after radical institutional change, history still shapes the decisions of policymakers.
Ruchir Agarwal and Patrick Gaule
The advancement of the knowledge frontier is crucial for technological innovation and human progress. Using novel data from the setting of mathematics, this paper establishes two results. First, we document that individuals who demonstrate exceptional talent in their teenage years have an irreplaceable ability to create new ideas over their lifetime, suggesting that talent is a central ingredient in the production of knowledge. Second, such talented individuals born in low- or middle-income countries are systematically less likely to become knowledge producers. Our findings suggest that policies to encourage exceptionally-talented youth to pursue scientific careers—especially those from lower income countries—could accelerate the advancement of the knowledge frontier.