Britain, South African gold, and the sterling area, 1945–50

Tim Rooth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite its economic importance to Britain and to the sterling area at a critical time in the late 1940s, the role of South Africa has been largely neglected. During the war and post-war years the Empire-Commonwealth and the sterling area assumed an unprecedented significance in Britain’s economic survival and in its attempt to maintain its international status. As the post-war economic crisis deepened, drawing many Commonwealth countries into greater interdependence, the ability of the sterling area to obtain gold and dollars emerged as a critical constraint on the economic prospects of its members. To ease the operations of the sterling area the British monetary authorities had hoped to be able to draw heavily on South African gold as it had in the 1930s and during the war.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-114
Number of pages22
JournalThe Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


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