Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Market Decline Will Lead To Pension Collapse, USD Devaluation, And NWO - Raymond_Matison
2.Uber’s Nightmare Has Just Started - Stephen_McBride
3.Stock Market Crash Black Swan Event Set Up Sept 12th? - Brad_Gudgeon
4.GDow Stock Market Trend Forecast Update - Nadeem_Walayat
5.Gold Significant Correction Has Started - Clive_Maund
6.British Pound GBP vs Brexit Chaos Timeline - Nadeem_Walayat
7.Cameco Crash, Uranium Sector Won’t Catch a break - Richard_Mills
8.Recession 2020 Forecast : The New Risks & New Profits Of A Grand Experiment - Dan_Amerman
9.Gold When Global Insanity Prevails - Michael Ballanger
10.UK General Election Forecast 2019 - Betting Market Odds - Nadeem_Walayat
Last 7 days
Canadian Cannabis Stocks CRASH as Canopy Growth Hits a Dead End - 14th Dec 19
Retail Sector Isn’t Dead, and These 6% Dividend Paying Stocks Prove It - 14th Dec 19
Top 5 Ways to Add Value to Your Home - 14th Dec 19
Beware Gold Stocks Downside - 13th Dec 19
Fed Says No Interest Rate Hikes In 2020. What About Gold? - 13th Dec 19
The ABC’s of Fiat Money - 13th Dec 19
Why Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems LOST Seats General Election 2019 - Sheffiled Hallam Result - 13th Dec 19
UK General Election 2019 BBC Exit Poll Forecast Accuracy Analysis - 12th Dec 19
Technical Analysis Update: Tadawul All Share Index (TASI) - Saudi Arabia ETF (KSA) - 12th Dec 19
Silver Miners Pinpoint the Precious Metals’ Outlook - 12th Dec 19
How Google Has Become the Worlds Biggest Travel Company - 12th Dec 19
UK Election Seats Forecasts - Tories 326, Labour 241, SNP 40, Lib Dems 17 - 12th Dec 19
UK General Election 2019 Final Seats Per Party Forecast - 12th Dec 19
What UK CPI, RPI INFLATION Forecasts for General Election Result 2019 - 11th Dec 19
Gold ETF Holdings Surge… But Do They Actually Hold Gold? - 11th Dec 19
Gold, Silver Reversals, Lower Prices and Our Precious Profits - 11th Dec 19
Opinion Pollsters, YouGov MRP General Election 2019 Result Seats Forecast - 11th Dec 19
UK General Election Tory and Labour Marginal Seats Analysis, Implied Forecast 2019 - 11th Dec 19
UK General Election 2019 - Tory Seats Forecast Based on GDP Growth - 11th Dec 19
YouGov's MRP Poll Final Tory Seats Forecast Revised Down From 359 to 338, Possibly Lower? - 10th Dec 19
What UK Economy (Average Earnings) Predicts for General Election Results 2019 - 10th Dec 19
Labour vs Tory Manifesto's UK General Election Parliamentary Seats Forecast 2019 - 10th Dec 19
Lumber is about to rally and how to play it with this ETF - 10th Dec 19
Social Mood and Leaders Impact on General Election Forecast 2019 - 9th Dec 19
Long-term Potential for Gold Remains Strong! - 9th Dec 19
Stock and Financial Markets Review - 9th Dec 19
Labour / Tory Manifesto's Impact on UK General Election Seats Forecast 2019 - 9th Dec 19
Tory Seats Forecast 2019 General Election Based on UK House Prices Momentum Analysis - 9th Dec 19
Top Tory Marginal Seats at Risk of Loss to Labour and Lib Dems - Election 2019 - 9th Dec 19
UK House Prices Momentum Tory Seats Forecast General Election 2019 - 8th Dec 19
Why Labour is Set to Lose Sheffield Seats at General Election 2019 - 8th Dec 19
Gold and Silver Opportunity Here Is As Good As It Gets - 8th Dec 19
High Yield Bond and Transports Signal Gold Buy Signal - 8th Dec 19
Gold & Silver Stocks Belie CoT Caution - 8th Dec 19
Will Labour Government Spending Bankrupt Britain? UK Debt and Deficits - 7th Dec 19
Lib Dem Fake Tory Election Leaflets - Sheffield Hallam General Election 2019 - 7th Dec 19
You Should Be Buying Gold Stocks Now - 6th Dec 19
The End of Apple Has Begun - 6th Dec 19
How Much Crude Oil Do You Unknowingly Eat? - 6th Dec 19
Labour vs Tory Manifesto Voter Bribes Impact on UK General Election Forecast - 6th Dec 19
Gold Price Forecast – Has the Recovery Finished? - 6th Dec 19
Precious Metals Ratio Charts - 6th Dec 19
Climate Emergency vs Labour Tree Felling Councils Reality - Sheffield General Election 2019 - 6th Dec 19
What Fake UK Unemployment Statistics Predict for General Election Result 2019 - 6th Dec 19

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

UK General Election Forecast 2019

What Didn't Change When Nixon Cut the Gold Link

Commodities / Gold and Silver 2011 Jul 27, 2011 - 12:15 PM GMT

By: Ben_Traynor

Commodities

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThe monetary system that dates back to August 1971 shares one vital trait with its predecessor...

"LET ME lay to rest the bugaboo of what is called devaluation," Richard Nixon told his fellow Americans on August 15 1971.


The 37th President had just announced the US would "temporarily" close the gold window – ending the convertibility of Dollars into gold that had been key to the postwar Bretton Woods system.

What didn't change in 1971, though, was every bit as important as what did. Because the Dollar remained the world's reserve currency – a "privilege" that, four decades on, looks increasingly like a curse.

When he made his address, Nixon was keen to allay fears he was undermining the Dollar's value by cutting the link to gold – especially given the apocalyptic warnings (both in the press and inside the White House) of how disastrous such a move would be.

His pitch? "If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your Dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your Dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today. The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the Dollar."

Any British viewers that day would have found it eerily reminiscent of prime minister Harold Wilson's "Pound in your Pocket" speech four years earlier. Nothing would change besides the entire monetary structure. And now, back to your scheduled programming with Bonanza.

Here in 2011, it's now been 40 years since the "temporary" suspension of Dollar convertibility. Has the Dollar been "stabilized"? Clearly not. But what's worth noting is how much faster the Dollar's domestic purchasing power has fallen in the last four decades – freed from gold – than it did in the 40 years before Nixon's announcement.

Between August 1931 and August 1971, the consumer price index – as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – went up by 170%. Since 1971, the CPI has risen 453%.

Of course, Nixon tried to spin his economic reforms – the gold window closure was accompanied by a wage and price freeze and a 10% import tariff – as necessary for "building the new prosperity". The logic was clear. A devalued Dollar, aided by the import tax, would increase America's international competitiveness, while wage and price controls would prevent these policies feeding through into higher inflation.

At least, that was the plan. As we know, it didn't turn out too well on the inflation front. But higher rates of inflation aren't the only phenomenon we've seen since the early 1970s. The irony is, Nixon hoped to solve another problem by closing the gold window – the US trade deficit.

"The United States has always been, and will continue to be, a forward-looking and trustworthy trading partner," he reassured the world on that fateful August evening. Within a minute, Tricky Dicky announced the 10% tax on imports. 

Nixon hoped to improve America's trade balance. Indeed, that was one rationale behind devaluing the Dollar by de-pegging it from gold. But it didn't work:

The United States has not run a trade surplus since 1974. It has consistently imported more goods and services than it has exported. Most countries cannot do this for long. They need the revenues from exports to pay for imports.

The US is different, because it issues the world's only reserve currency, which is used to settle most international trade. France's finance minister under president Charles de Gaulle, Valéry Giscard D'Estaing, described this in the mid-1960s as America's "exorbitant privilege" – the ability of the US to fund its trade gap by the creation of new Dollars, in which its imports are still denominated.

With gold convertible for Dollar bills, this "privilege" risked emptying the United States' huge stockpile of monetary metal. But freed from that gold obligation in 1971, isn't the privilege actually still a curse today?

The US was in a tricky position throughout the Bretton Woods era. Its problem was summed up by what became known as the Triffin Dilemma, after Belgian economist Robert Triffin. Because as the global economy expanded, he explained, more and more Dollar liquidity was needed to oil the wheels of international trade. And the US was the sole issuer of Dollars. So the only way the rest of the world could obtain Dollars was by exporting more to America than it imported – all but ensuring the US would run a trade deficit.

Of course, the US could seek to match its exports to its imports – but that risked a seize-up of global trade if foreigners could not get hold of sufficient Dollars to settle their trading with other, non-US parties.

That was one part of the Triffin Dilemma. The other concerned the link to gold, fixed at $35 an ounce. As more and more Dollars entered the system, so the ratio of Dollars to gold increased, putting upwards pressure on the Dollar gold price. 

The London Gold Pool – whereby central banks clubbed together to keep gold prices down by co-ordinated gold sales – was set up in 1961 to address this problem. However, the system fell apart after France pulled out – De Gaulle preferring to swap his Dollars for gold rather than vice versa

The open market gold price rose, accelerating the drain on US gold reserves, as arbitrageurs realized they could swap $35 for an ounce of US government gold and sell it for more elsewhere.

The fixed exchange regime of Bretton Woods, resting as it did on a $35 an ounce gold price, was unsustainable in a world of ever-increasing Dollar liquidity. Nixon had three choices – close the gold window, risk setting off a global deflationary spiral, or give away the United States' remaining stockpile of metal. He closed the window.

The Dollar, however, remained the world's reserve currency. This meant the US was now in a position – both at home and abroad – to really go to town exploiting D'Estaing's exorbitant privilege. And looking back over the last 40 years, it looks like that's exactly what successive administrations did. 

We hear a lot today about "imbalances" in the global economy. One of the biggest imbalances is that the monetary unit of international trade is issued by a single nation. Gold was giving a strong signal of this disequilibrium half a century ago. Nixon, however, either misread the signals or willfully ignored them. Instead he blamed the Dollar's travails on "international money speculators".

By doing so, he pushed the world onto a whole new monetary system, one whose ultimate backing is the "Full Faith and Credit" of the United States government – and nothing more. It's a worrying irony that a system resting on such "faith and credit" was mid-wifed by the man responsible for Watergate.

By Ben Traynor
BullionVault.com

Gold price chart, no delay   |   Buy gold online at live prices

Editor of Gold News, the analysis and investment research site from world-leading gold ownership service BullionVault, Ben Traynor was formerly editor of the Fleet Street Letter, the UK's longest-running investment letter. A Cambridge economics graduate, he is a professional writer and editor with a specialist interest in monetary economics.

(c) BullionVault 2011

Please Note: This article is to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in

6 Critical Money Making Rules