Coin memories: New Estimates of French Metallic Currency, 1840-1878
Journal of European Economic History
IT : UniCredit
Scholars have traditionally argued that the stock of specie in circulation in France in the 19th century was considerable and that this "financial backwardness" accounted for France's slower economic growth in that century. Scholars have also claimed that the French bimetallic system was inherently unstable. It is true that until the 1880's, gold and silver coinage formed the main portion of French monetary stock, perhaps as much as 52% in 1885, but the supposition that this somehow hindered French industrialization requires correction. This is especially true given the fact that no precise figures for the annual monetary stock had existed until recently. As a result of new estimates, two periods of specie can be detected: 1830-52 (predominant silver coinage) and 1853-66 (predominant gold coinage as a result of the depreciation of gold). In general, by the 1850's the stock of specie in circulation was much smaller than conventionally believed and did not exceed by much that in Great Britain. There is no reason to believe that the French bimetallic system adversely affected the French economy.