Exclusive Interview With Steve Forbes - Part One

Thegoldstandardnow.org is pleased to have held an extended interview with prominent gold standard advocate Steve Forbes, chairman of Forbes Media and editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, and author, with Elizabeth Ames, of a new book published to glowing critical notice: Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy – and What We Can Do About It .

This interview, to be presented in three parts over three weeks, provides uniquely personal insights, including as to how Forbes became interested in the gold standard, with generous praise for the founder and chairman of the Lehrman Institute, Lewis E. Lehrman, about whom Forbes says: “Lew’s writings—and our conversations—were crucial to reforming my youthful views on money!”

Today we offer our readers Part One of this fascinating exclusive interview.


Q: Steve, you have the best pedigree for monetary policy of anyone in journalism.  Forgive the long backstory but it was your grandfather, B.C., who broke the true story of the creation of the Federal Reserve System -- the whole Jekyll Island story -- which he did brilliantly in The Men Who Are Making America.

So first question: was your interest in monetary policy at all influenced by your family history?  Was your father, Malcolm, at all interested in this subject?

A: Amazingly, my father didn’t have a great interest in monetary policy. He understood, of course, the importance of the Fed, but it wasn’t something that animated him.

Q: The gold standard has long been one of your signature issues.  You, together with Lewis Lehrman and Ron Paul, are probably most closely associated in the public mind with the gold standard.  You have spoken of it often, and very knowledgeably. 

When did it first become an area of interest to you?  Who taught you, or how did you teach yourself?

A: Growing up, I shared the time’s widespread disdain for gold: Gold was a barbarous relic, something from olden times, like horse-drawn carriages; and it prolonged the Depression. But I then became aware of how destructive the anarchy of the 1930s was, and I came to believe that preserving the Bretton Woods system was necessary. The chaos of the 1970s was seen by many as the new normal, which didn’t seem right. I became convinced of the need for massive cuts in tax rates and, thus, an advocate of Kemp-Roth.

In studying the post-WWII era I discovered several factors that made the boom of 1950s and 1960s possible, and sound money was one of them. By the early 1980s the writings of Lew, Jude, Jack, Rueff, Mundell and others had made their mark: The U.S. needed a new gold standard.

Q: One of the most-read articles on this website, the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org, was a reprise of your statement on Fox News, in 2011, that we would have the gold standard within 5 years.    Are we on or close to schedule?

A: Alas, we are not on schedule.

Q: Why (or why not)?

A: While writing Money it became clear that although the idea of a gold standard is gaining traction, the ignorance covering the whole subject of monetary policy is distressingly widespread. The crises of the 1970s and 2008–09 didn’t lead to a new gold standard. We have a big job of educating to do. Talking with potential 2016 presidential candidates is just one of the tasks ahead. We’ll experience more crises, because our monetary authorities don’t know what they’re doing. We must continue to lay the groundwork for a new gold standard.

Q:  In 1996, you campaigned on behalf of Ron Paul in Texas 14.  To what extent has Dr. Paul had an influence on your views?  Lewis Lehrman?  Others?

A: I first learned of Ron Paul when he, along with Lew, wrote the dissenting report to the Gold Commission of the early 1980s. Ron was obviously well-versed in the subject. I was delighted to help him out when he was making what would become a successful attempt to return to the House of Representatives. I believed it was essential for his views on money to be heard in Washington. Of course, Lew’s writings—and our conversations—were crucial to reforming my youthful views on money!

Q: You have been active both publicly and behind the scenes on behalf of monetary integrity, generally, and the gold standard, particularly.  You, together with Lewis Lehrman, were a featured speaker at the Heritage Foundation Conference On A Stable Dollar: Why We Need It and How to Achieve It on October 5, 2011.  As I recall, the room was packed (and you had them in stitches with your story about repelling undesired chatty seatmates on a transcontinental flight by offering to explain monetary policy to them).  Impressions?

A: That was a fantastic conference. Most people sense that what we’re doing today is wrong, which is why we must continue to work in the public eye, as well as behind the scenes, for genuine monetary reform. Jeff Bell’s U.S. Senate candidacy in New Jersey is an exciting example of this process.


Read Part Two of the Interview


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