The Economic Consequences of Mrs. Merkel by David Glasner
...However, the consequences of the decision to restore the prewar [gold] parity were, at least initially, less devastating than Keynes predicted. Contrary to Keynes’s prediction, unemployment in Britain actually declined slightly in 1926 and 1927, falling below 10% for the first time in the 1920s. Hawtrey’s conjecture that the Federal Reserve, then led by the head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Benjamin Strong, would follow a mildly accommodative policy, alleviating the deflationary pressure on Britain, turned out to be correct. However, ill health forced Strong to resign in 1928 only months before his untimely death. His accommodative policy was reversed just as the Bank of France started accumulating gold, unleashing deflationary forces that had been contained since the deflation of 1920-21.
Fast forward some four score years to today’s tragic re-enactment of the deflationary dynamics that nearly destroyed European civilization in the 1930s. But what a role reversal! In 1930 it was Germany that was desperately seeking to avoid defaulting on its obligations by engaging in round after round of futile austerity measures and deflationary wage cuts, causing the collapse of one major European financial institution after another in the annus horribilis of 1931, finally (at least a year after too late) forcing Britain off the gold standard in September 1931. Eighty years ago it was France, accumulating huge quantities of gold, in Midas-like self-satisfaction despite the economic wreckage it was inflicting on the rest of Europe and ultimately itself, whose monetary policy was decisive for the international value of gold and the downward course of the international economy. Now, it is Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe dominating the European Central Bank, which effectively controls the value of the euro. And just as deflation under the gold standard made it impossible for Germany (and its state and local governments) not to default on its obligations in 1931, the policy of the European Central Bank, self-righteously dictated by Germany, has made default by Greece and now Italy and at least three other members of the Eurozone inevitable.