Canst Thou Beggar Thy Neighbour? Evidence from the 1930s

Does an exchange rate depreciation depress trading partners’ output? I address this question through the lens of a classic episode: from 1931 to 1936, the largest economies in the world successively devalued their currency. In theory, the effect is ambiguous for countries that had not devalued: expenditure switching can lower their output, but the monetary stimulus to foreign demand might raise it. I use cross-sectional evidence to discipline the strength of these two mechanisms in a multi-country model. Contrary to the popular narrative in modern policy debates, devaluation did not dramatically lower the output of trading partners in this context.