Why did policymakers adopt the gold standard? We first examine the political economy of Japan's adoption of the gold standard in 1897 by exploring the ex ante motives of policymakers as well as how the legislative decision to adopt gold won approval. We then show that joining the gold standard did not reduce Japanese interest rates or lead to a domestic investment boom. However, we find that membership in the gold standard increased Japan's exports by lowering transactions costs. Joining gold allowed Japan to tap into its growing share of global trade that was centered on the gold standard.
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