The decades before and after the turn of the twentieth century, like those surrounding the turn of the twenty-first, are often understood as periods of globalization. The two periods share key features that characterize the global as a motif, including high mobility of goods, services, people, ideas and, perhaps most centrally, capital. An important distinguishing feature between the periods is the monetary regime: the gold standard for the turn of the twentieth century; managed flexibility (ranging from currency pegs to floating exchange rates) for the turn of the twenty-first. This paper examines the legal infrastructure of these two monetary regimes in order to illuminate two distinct yet related issues. The first is the connection between the form of rulemaking (e.g., legislation versus technocratic regulation) and the means of isolating monetary policy decisions from political influence. The second is the role of the monetary regime in mediating value. Both the gold standard and the managed flexibility regime aim to shield money from partisan intervention, but they do so in different ways; attention to the legal framework sheds light on how these differing regimes pursue the goal of insulating money from politics.
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