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Exchange rate and gold and silver prices

The exchange rate and gold and silver prices in Paris, London and Hamburg, 1800-1873: the European Bimetallic System - Marie-Thérèse Boyer-Xambeu, Ghislain Deleplace and Lucien Gillard, Laboratoire d’Économie Dionysien (LED) – Université Paris 8 (Saint-Denis)

  • a bimetallic-standard zone, centred on the Paris financial market and the Banque de France

  • a gold-standard zone, centred on the London financial market and the Bank of England

  • a silver-standard zone, centred on the Hamburg financial market and the Bank of Hamburg

The system's operating logic only became fully functional with the restoration of the Bank of England's duty to convert banknotes into gold in 1821. However, the database begins with the year of the Banque de France's creation, due to the role it would come to play in the system. This also allows us to compare the stability of the European Bimetallic System with the instability that preceded it (and which can be seen in the charts available on the website).

The first part of the website presents the database, whose build principles ensure series continuity in time and series comparability in space.

The second part of the website presents an analysis of the European Bimetallic System (EBS) from 1821 to 1873 and four key findings:

1) The bilateral balance of payments position between Paris, London and Hamburg indicates that there was upward pressure on the mark banco vis-à-vis pound sterling and the French franc and downward pressure on the franc vis-à-vis the two other currencies, with the pound operating as intermediary.

2) The hierarchy and evolution of the ratios between the market prices of gold and silver on the three markets testify to the remarkable, and increasing, degree of system integration after 1821, despite the shocks it endured.

3) Two market prices play decisive roles in explaining exchange rate movements between the French franc, the pound sterling and the mark banco: the London silver price and the Hamburg gold price.

4) The stability of the system was underpinned by the bimetallic arbitrage along the three sides of the Paris-London-Hamburg triangle.

Updated on: 05/04/2018 15:18