By Paul Einzig (auth.)

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In the United States, too, when she entered the war and the currencies of some neutral countries went to a premium against the dollar, the gold standard came to be suspended. On their part the neutral countries concerned suspended their respective versions of the gold standard by authorising their Central Banks to stop the purchases of gold. After the end of the war the United States soon returned to gold, but other countries, former belligerents and former neutrals alike, took their time before they felt able to do so.

The popularisation and perpetuation of this system would have contributed towards the reduction of monetary requirements of gold. Amidst the conditions prevailing in the 'thirties the alternative to exchange clearing was in many instances a further contraction in the volume of foreign trade, since many Governments felt they could not afford to risk admitting imports unless they ensured that payment would only be made out of the proceeds of the exports of their countries. It was tempting to regard the new system as an acceptable alternative to free trading under the gold standard, all the more as it tended to discourage the 'beggar-my-neighbour' policies which became very popular in the 'thirties.

And since it was obvious that the amount of monetary gold available was not nearly sufficient to abandon the use of the dollar and sterling as reserve currencies, the French spokesmen advocated a drastic devaluation of the dollar and of other currencies, so as to increase the book value of gold reserves sufficiently to do away with the necessity of using the dollar and sterling reserve to supplement gold reserve. As this policy was inspired by de Gaule's anti-Anglo-Saxon attitude rather than by economic considerations, it seems that the right measure was advocated for the wrong reason.

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