Polanyi's thesis

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Karl Polanyi's thesis, or the "Polanyian" approach, is an explanation for why Great Britain shifted away from the gold standard. This shift was significant because Great Britain was both the bulwark of the gold standard and the first to leave it, and their success demonstrated that flexible exchange rates were more feasible in sustaining recovery after big financial crises. Polanyi, to solve the puzzle this surprising policy shift, says that interests and institutions were extremely influential. The gold standard sacrifices monetary policy autonomy, which is preferred by the working class, and is preferred by the wealthy who prefer a stable exchange rates. Before the war, the working class wasn't empowered, but they became more powerful and influential after the war. This allowed the transition into the flexible exchange regime.

Critiques of the Polanyi Thesis

Given the fact that the maintenance of the gold standard ideal was the top priority of every policymaker in the treasury, the government, or the very independent Bank of England, it seems that something other than interests or institutions explains the shift in policy. This missing variable is John Maynard Keynes, who affected significant changes in the ideas of policymakers of the time. 

Morrison, JA. “Keynessandra No More: JM Keynes, the 1931 Financial Crisis, and the Death of the Gold Standard in Britain.” Manuscript book chapter. August 2010. Ch 12.