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How Japan remained on the Gold Standard despite unsustainable external debt



In the period of the classic gold standard, most peripheral countries were frequently affected by so-called sudden stops as well as by financial and currency crises. Yet pre-War Japan was an outlier. Though its level of external debt was not sustainable, Japan issued many government foreign loans to cover its current account deficits, was never affected by currency crises, and was never forced to suspend convertibility. We argue that, from the late nineteenth century until just before World War I, Japan and Britain engaged in a politico-economic exchange: Japan offered to protect Britain's economic and political interests in the Far East provided that Britain gave the rising Asian power access to financial markets—namely, in the City of London.



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Explorations in Economic History, Volume 59, January 2016, Pages 40-54-Giovanni B. Pittaluga, Elena Seghezza