The True Gold Standard (Second Edition)
An article headline in Saturday’s Wall Street Journalread “Rate Talk Heats Up Within The Fed.” As Journalreporters Jon Hilsenrath and Michael Derby explained, “A debate is intensifying among the Federal Reserve’s regional bank presidents about whether to push interest rates up from near zero sooner than planned…”
Notable here is that in the late 20th century an informal and surely unplanned debate between central planning and free markets was staged, and the contest wasn’t even close. Ignoring for the purposes of this piece the often bloody governance that revealed itself inside countries that practiced central planning, the unrelenting drudgery that defined economies designed by bureaucrats and politicians was surely one of the most cruelly animating features of the century before this one. Centrally planned countries imploded by century’s end, while economically free countries soared.
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee held hearings on Federal Reserve reform. Maybe the Fed could explicitly follow monetary policy rules, or become subject to conventional audits, or be the subject of a commission reflecting on its hundred-and-one years of performance. These were some of the ideas floated. Warhorses including the old International Monetary Fund hand Simon Johnson were there to say no way: everything will go haywire if you change a thing with the Fed.
Sure, Professor Johnson. Rules, for example. These could turn out to be scary. Back when the Fed had to think about things like gold-cover ratios, all the economy had to show for it was postwar prosperity after World War II, the most legendary experience of economic abundance the world has ever seen.
A weak U.S. dollar is a threat to the global economy and the only way to stop the greenback’s decline is to reintroduce a gold standard, said media tycoon, Steve Forbes.
Forbes, the editor and chief of Forbes Media, was one of the keynote speakers at the annual Freedomfest conference in Las Vegas, an annual convention that looks to gather free minds for open discussions on politics and the economy.
In an interview with Kitco News’ Daniela Cambone, Forbes talked about gold’s role it the U.S. economy, which is also highlighted in his latest book MONEY: How The Destruction Of The Dollar Threatens The Global Economy And What We Can Do About It. He said to stop the decline in the U.S. dollar it only makes sense to link it to gold.
Forbes said different currency valuation methods have been tried for “more than 4,000 year,” and experience shows that having a gold standard is the way to go. He added a gold standard “done right” provides stability and value when it comes to money supply.
Krugman is, of course, quite correct that the “return-to-gold faction has been gaining strength.” Speculating beyond the data thereafter Krugman goes beyond studied ignorance. He traffics in shamefully deceptive statements.
Of the nearly two-dozen signers of (a fairly mildly stated concern) open letter to Bernanke which Krugman cites as prime evidence, only one or two are really notable members of the “return-to-gold faction.” Perhaps a few other signers might have shown some themselves in sympathy the gold prescription. Most, however, were, and are, agnostic about, or even opposed to, the gold standard.
Out of the “currency wars” of the 1930s, and then World War II, came a shared dream among the non-communist states: to establish a stable economic environment for business and trade. Representatives from forty-four countries met at the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and recreated the world gold standard system.
The U.S. dollar was officially linked to gold at $35/ounce, its gold parity since 1934. Other currencies were linked to the dollar at fixed exchange rates, which effectively meant that they were linked to gold as well. The Japanese yen was 360/dollar, year after year. (360*35=12,600/oz.) The German mark was 4.20/dollar.
In June of this year, former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker spoke at the annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Committee, and pined for the world in which he grew up and began his career.
Volcker was under-secretary of the Treasury for international monetary affairs from 1969 to 1974. The U.S. ended the Bretton Woods’ system’s official link to gold in 1971, and the system’s final dissolution was in the spring of 1973.