The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Lawrence H. Officer
Reference work entry


A bimetallic monetary standard is a combination of two metallic standards, each of which could in principle stand alone. Bimetallism has advantages over monometallism; but can be an unstable system, with legal bimetallism becoming de facto monometallism. The Persian and Roman Empires practised bimetallism. England’s de facto bimetallism was short-lived, and US bimetallism difficult to maintain. French bimetallism in 1815–73 stabilized the gold–silver market price ratio and also exchange rates among gold, silver, and bimetallic countries. Bimetallism ended in the 1870s.


Bimetallic arbitrage Bimetallism Deflation Gold standard Gresham’s law Inflation Latin Monetary Union Market ratio Mint ratio Monetary base Money supply Monometallism Seigniorage Silver standard Specie-flow mechanism 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

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  • Lawrence H. Officer
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