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By W. M. Scammell (auth.)
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Additional resources for International Monetary Policy: Bretton Woods & After
It is also to some extent conditioned, but not determined, by the total volume of trade, inasmuch as wbile it is conceivable that with a large volume ofworld trade the demand for liquidity might still be small because of very stable balances of payments it is none the less potentially larger if balances of payments become unstable. Over time the distribution of this world stock of internationalliquidity as between countries is determined by the long-run trend of the balances of payments of major countries.
It would first be necessary to establish a satisfactory reserve position as between countries, taking into consideration for each its trade participation, economic maturity, and capital position. Then it would have to be assumed that, from this base, reserve growth proceeded according to some chosen indicator such as those mentioned above. Such a phased approach is more logical than realistic, and a workable compromise would be for the rates of growth of individual countries' reserves to be adjusted according to the condition existing at the inauguration of the scheme.
The table demonstrates c1early the changing levels of international reserves to which the world can apparently accommodate itself. Consider the very low ratio of reserves to trade in 1913 a year not associated by economic historians with an internationalliquidity problem. The fact that such a large trade volume could be supported by such slender reserves was probably due to Ca) the great basic stability ofthe international economy at that time, (b) the willingness ofmonetary authorities under a gold standard to apply stern corrective measures if imbalance occurred, and Ce) the fact that the strain of imbalance, if it occurred, did not fall heavily on international reserves, which were amply cushioned by the international credit system.