The Restoration of the Gold Standard after
the US Civil War: A Volatility Analysis

Max Meulemann
Martin Uebele
Bernd Wilfling

November 2012


Using a Markov-switching GARCH model this paper analyzes the volatility evolution of the greenback's price in gold from after the Civil War until the return to gold convertibility in 1879. The econometric inference associated with our methodology indicates a switch to a regime of low volatility roughly seven months before the actual resumption. Since this empirical finding is most likely to be reconciled with a change in market expectations, we conclude that expectations affected the exchange rate more than fundamentals. Our analysis also demonstrates that regime switches in the volatility of exchange rates may reflect historical events that remain undiscovered otherwise.

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