Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Stock Markets and the History Chart of the End of the World (With Presidential Cycles) - 28th Aug 20
2.Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook... AI Tech Stocks Buying Levels and Valuations Q3 2020 - 31st Aug 20
3.The Inflation Mega-trend is Going Hyper! - 11th Sep 20
4.Is this the End of Capitalism? - 13th Sep 20
5.What's Driving Gold, Silver and What's Next? - 3rd Sep 20
6.QE4EVER! - 9th Sep 20
7.Gold Price Trend Forecast Analysis - Part1 - 7th Sep 20
8.The Fed May “Cause” The Next Stock Market Crash - 3rd Sep 20
9.Bitcoin Price Crash - You Will be Suprised What Happens Next - 7th Sep 20
10.NVIDIA Stock Price Soars on RTX 3000 Cornering the GPU Market for next 2 years! - 3rd Sep 20
Last 7 days
AI Tech Stocks Buy Ratings, Levels and Valuations - 14th Apr 21
Easy 10% to 15% Overclock for 5600x, 5900x, 5950x Using AMD Ryzen Master Precision Boost Overdrive - 14th Apr 21
The Current Cannabis Sector Rally Is Pointing To Another Breakout - 14th Apr 21
U.S. Dollar Junk Bond Market The Easiest Money in History - 14th Apr 21
The SPY Is Nearing Resistance @ $410… What Is Next? - 14th Apr 21
The Curious Stock Market Staircase Rally - 14th Apr 21
Stocks are Heating Up - 14th Apr 21
Two Methods in Calculating For R&D Tax Credits - 14th Apr 21
Stock Market Minor Correction Due - 13th Apr 21
How to Feed Budgies Cucumbers - Best Vegetables Feeding for the First Time, Parakeet Care UK - 13th Apr 21
Biggest Inflation Threat in 40 Years Looms over Markets - 13th Apr 21
How to Get Rich with the Pareto Distribution - Tesco Example - 13th Apr 21
Litecoin and Bitcoin-Which Is Better? - 13th Apr 21
The Major Advantages Of Getting Your PhD Online - 12th Apr 21
Covid-19 Pandemic Current State for UK, US, Europe, Brazil Vaccinations vs Lockdown's Third Wave - 12th Apr 21
Why These Stock Market Indicators Should Grab Your Full Attention - 12th Apr 21
Rising Debt Means a Weaker US Dollar - 12th Apr 21
Another Gold Stocks Upleg - 12th Apr 21
AMD The ZEN Tech Stock - 12th Apr 21
Overclockers UK Build Quality - Why Glue Fan to CPU Heat sink Instead of Using Supplied Clips? - 12th Apr 21 -
What are the Key Capabilities You Should Look for in Fleet Management Software? - 12th Apr 21
What Is Bitcoin Gold? - 12th Apr 21
UK Covd-19 FREE Lateral Flow Self Testing Kits How Use for the First Time at Home - 10th Apr 21
NVIDIA Stock ARMED and Dangeorus! - 10th Apr 21
The History of Bitcoin Hard Forks - 10th Apr 21
Gold Mining Stocks: A House Built on Shaky Ground - 9th Apr 21
Stock Market On the Verge of a Pullback - 9th Apr 21
What Is Bitcoin Unlimited? - 9th Apr 21
Most Money Managers Gamble With Your Money - 9th Apr 21
Top 5 Evolving Trends For Mobile Casinos - 9th Apr 21
Top 5 AI Tech Stocks Investing 2021 Analysis - 8th Apr 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast 2021 - Crash or Continuing Bull Run? - 8th Apr 21
Don’t Be Fooled by the Stock Market Rally - 8th Apr 21
Gold and Latin: Twin Pillars of Western Rejuvenation - 8th Apr 21
Stronger US Dollar Reacts To Global Market Concerns – Which ETFs Will Benefit? Part II - 8th Apr 21
You're invited: Spot the Next BIG Move in Oil, Gas, Energy ETFs - 8th Apr 21
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr US Dollar is Back - 8th Apr 21
Stock Market New S&P 500 Highs or Metals Rising? - 8th Apr 21
Microsoft AI Azure Cloud Computing Driving Tech Giant Profits - 7th Apr 21
Amazon Tech Stock PRIMEDAY SALE- 7th Apr 21
The US has Metals Problem - Lithium, Graphite, Copper, Nickel Supplies - 7th Apr 21
Yes, the Fed Will Cover Biden’s $4 Trillion Deficit - 7th Apr 21
S&P 500 Fireworks and Gold Going Stronger - 7th Apr 21
Stock Market Perceived Vs. Actual Risks: The Key To Success - 7th Apr 21
Investing in Google Deep Mind AI 2021 (Alphabet) - 6th Apr 21
Which ETFs Will Benefit As A Stronger US Dollar Reacts To Global Market Concerns - 6th Apr 21
Staying Out of the Red: Financial Tips for Kent Homeowners - 6th Apr 21
Stock Market Pushing Higher - 6th Apr 21
Inflation Fears Rise on Biden’s $3.9 TRILLION in Deficit Spending - 6th Apr 21
Editing and Rendering Videos Whilst Background Crypto Mining Bitcoins with NiceHash, Davinci Resolve - 5th Apr 21
Why the Financial Gurus Are WRONG About Gold - 5th Apr 21
Will Biden’s Infrastructure Plan Rebuild Gold? - 5th Apr 21
Stocks All Time Highs and Gold Double Bottom - 5th Apr 21
All Tech Stocks Revolve Around This Disruptor - 5th Apr 21
Silver $100 Price Ahead - 4th Apr 21
Is Astra Zeneca Vaccine Safe? Risk of Blood Clots and What Side Effects During 8 Days After Jab - 4th Apr 21
Are Premium Bonds A Good Investment in 2021 vs Savings, AI Stocks and Housing Alternatives - 4th Apr 21
Penny Stocks Hit $2 Trillion - The Real Story Behind This "Road to Riches" Scheme - 4th Apr 21
Should Stock Markets Fear Inflation or Deflation? - 4th Apr 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

FIRST ACCESS to Nadeem Walayat’s Analysis and Trend Forecasts

Gold, The Market's Global Currency

Commodities / Gold and Silver 2010 Nov 11, 2010 - 10:10 AM GMT

By: Robert_Murphy

Commodities

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleWorld Bank president Robert Zoellick has stirred up a hornet's nest with his recent call for a return to a gold anchor[1] in the global financial system. The usual suspects immediately denounced him, with Keynesian Brad DeLong anointing Zoellick the "Stupidest Man Alive."


In the present article I'll explain the resurging interest in the yellow metal.

I'll also explain the dangers of Zoellick's proposal, and why fans of the classical gold standard should be wary.

The Limitations of the Printing Press

In order to make sense of our current situation — and why Zoellick would timidly call for a return to a pseudo-gold standard — we need to first think through the logic of fiat money. Fiat money is not "backed up" by anything; it is intrinsically useless paper (or nowadays, mere electronic bookkeeping entries) that is valuable only because of its anticipated purchasing power. In contrast, a market-based commodity money, such as gold or silver, is a useful good in its own right, serving industrial and consumer purposes.

The critical difference between fiat and commodity money is that fiat money can be produced in virtually unlimited quantities at very low cost. In this respect, the person who controls the printing press of a fiat currency is in a much stronger position than the person who owns a gold mine. With just some ink and paper, the printing press can create a million new dollars quite easily, whereas the owner of the gold mine would need to hire workers to operate expensive equipment in order to bring forth new amounts of gold having the same market value.

Yet we shouldn't conclude that the owner of a printing press has unlimited power. For one thing, prices would eventually rise in response to large amounts of new money creation. So printing off, say, $1 million in fresh new currency would buy fewer and fewer goods and services with each successive round of inflation.

Even more problematic, the people in the community would abandon the currency if the inflation became too excessive. For example, if a brilliant counterfeiter developed a machine to produce perfect $100 bills in his basement, he wouldn't be able to literally buy the whole world. Long before that point — even if the authorities didn't track him down — people would have ditched the dollar and switched to the use of other currencies.

Although our scenario sounds farfetched, it's actually very close to the real world, right now. The only difference is that instead of our hypothetical, brilliant counterfeiter in the basement, we have our actual, less-than-brilliant economist in the Federal Reserve. His name, of course, is Ben Bernanke.

The Bretton Woods System

The original Bretton Woods system — so named because of the location of the meetings that established it in 1944 — governed international monetary arrangements in the postwar era until Richard Nixon's fateful decision to close the gold window in 1971.

Under the Bretton Woods agreement, other nations would use US dollars as their "reserves." The Bank of England, Bank of France, etc., would issue their own domestic currencies, but would maintain stockpiles of US dollars with which they could regulate the value of their own currencies. If the British pound sterling began to depreciate against the US dollar, for example, then the Bank of England could enter the foreign-exchange market and use some of its dollar holdings to "buy pounds," thus bringing the value of the pound back within target. In this way, investors across the globe could feel comfortable with their British financial holdings, because the pound was tied to the dollar.

"Gold is the bane of central bankers."

Note the tremendously advantageous position that the Bretton Woods system assigned to the United States. As issuer of the world's reserve currency, the United States had a very captive market. If the Bank of England wanted to increase its dollar reserves by another $1 million, then ultimately Great Britain had to sell $1 million worth of goods and services to Americans in order to earn the dollars. The Bretton Woods system effectively expanded the scope for US inflation to the entire world, thus magnifying the benefits to those who controlled the American printing press.

Of course, the other members of Bretton Woods understood these details. The US achieved its privileged outcome in the negotiations because of its economic and military might at that point in world history. But in order to restrain the natural temptation for runaway inflation by US officials, the Bretton Woods system linked the dollar itself to gold. Specifically, any central bank could redeem its dollars for gold at the fixed rate of $35 per ounce.

The Bretton Woods system has been described as a "gold-exchange standard," in contrast to the classical gold standard. In the original framework — which was smashed, like so many other aspects of Western civilization, in World War I — each nation tied its own currency to gold. Then, the currencies in turn traded at fixed exchange rates against each other, because of their mutual ties to gold. Individual citizens could present the currencies for redemption in gold, keeping a very tight check on inflation. If any central bank began to issue too much currency in relation to its gold reserves, speculators would begin depleting the reserves, causing the central bank to quickly reverse course.

Under the diluted Bretton Woods system, individual citizens had no right of redemption. Most currencies were only indirectly linked to gold (via their link to the dollar). And, of course, even this tenuous link was destroyed when Richard Nixon abandoned the dollar's convertibility to gold in 1971. At this point, the entire global financial system was based utterly on fiat money.

No longer shackled by the peg to gold, the Federal Reserve began printing money with reckless abandon. The obvious results were an acceleration in US consumer prices, and an explosion in the US trade deficit, trends that noticeably worsen after 1971:

Consumer Price Index (Blue Line, Right Scale) and Balance of Payments as a Share of GDP (Red Line, Left Scale)

The Reluctant Return to Gold

Say what you will about the powerful people running the global monetary system, but they aren't stupid. They can see as well as the rest of us that there is no "exit strategy" for Bernanke's bouts of massive inflation, or "quantitative easing" as they now call it. At some point, the trillion(s) in excess reserves will begin leaking back into the broader monetary aggregates. At that point, Bernanke or a successor will need to choose between saving the dollar or saving major Wall Street institutions. I predict that he will sacrifice the dollar, and it seems many elites around the world have come to the same conclusion.

It is in this context that World Bank president Zoellick writes:

The G20 should complement [a] growth recovery programme with a plan to build a co-operative monetary system that reflects emerging economic conditions. This new system is likely to need to involve the dollar, the euro, the yen, the pound and a renminbi that moves towards internationalisation and then an open capital account.

The system should also consider employing gold as an international reference point of market expectations about inflation, deflation and future currency values. Although textbooks may view gold as the old money, markets are using gold as an alternative monetary asset today. (emphasis added)

To repeat, gold is the bane of central bankers; it ties their hands and limits their discretion when conducting monetary policy. However, the game collapses if people lose faith in the fiat currency underpinning the whole system. As the recklessness of Bernanke's moves becomes apparent to more and more people, the central planners around the world will need to throw a bone to the fearful public. A "basket of currencies," each of which is still fiat-paper money, will not suffice.

As Zoellick is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a participant in the notorious Bilderberg meetings, some analysts are understandably suspicious of his motives. After all, if powerful people were trying to introduce a regional currency to replace the dollar — in the same way that the euro has supplanted the traditional European currencies — then it would be necessary to first wreck the dollar. In its place, it would be very tempting to offer a new currency with a tie to gold.

In this light, what appear to be "inexplicable" and contradictory actions by the Federal Reserve and other powerful figures would make perfect sense.

Conclusion

Regardless of the machinations of the political insiders, the laws of economics cannot be denied. Central bankers cannot be trusted with the printing press, especially when there is no formal check on their inflationary policies. It is no coincidence that gold is hitting such heights as investors the world over hunker down for what may very well be a collapse of the dollar system.

Robert Murphy, an adjunct scholar of the Mises Institute and a faculty member of the Mises University, runs the blog Free Advice and is the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, the Study Guide to Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market, the Human Action Study Guide, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal. Send him mail. See Robert P. Murphy's article archives. Comment on the blog.

© 2010 Copyright Robert Murphy - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 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