The return to a gold exchange standard

February 24, 2019

This article makes the obvious point that a return to a gold standard is the only way nations can contain the interest cost of servicing debt, given the alternative is inflationist policies that can only lead to far higher interest rates and currency destruction. The topic is timely, given the self-harm of American economic and geopolitical policies, which are already leading America into a cyclical slump. Meanwhile, American fears of Asian domination of global economic, monetary and political outcomes have come true. The upcoming credit crisis is likely to kill off the welfare state model in the West by destroying their unbacked paper currencies, while China, Russia and their Asian allies have the means to prosper.




The fragility of state finances

In my last Goldmoney article I explained why the monetary policies of inflationist economists and policy makers would end up destroying fiat currencies. The destruction will come from ordinary people, who are forced by law to use the state’s money for settling their day-to-day transactions. Ordinary people, each one a trinity of production, consumption and saving, will eventually wake up to the fraud of monetary inflation and discard their government’s medium of exchange as intrinsically worthless.

They always have, eventually. This has been proved by experience and should be uncontroversial. For the issuer of a currency, the risk of this happening heightens when credit markets become destabilised and confidence in the full faith and credit, which is the only backing a fiat currency has, begins to be questioned either by its users or foreigners or both. And when it does, a currency starts to rapidly lose purchasing power and the whole interest rate structure moves higher.

The state’s finances are then ruined, because by that time the state will have accumulated a lethal combination of existing unrepayable debt and escalating welfare liabilities. Today, most governments, including the US, are already ensnared in this debt trap, only the public has yet to realise the consequences and the planners are not about to tell them. The difficulty for nearly all governments is the deterioration in their finances will eventually wipe out their currencies unless a solution is found. 

There is a solution that if taken allows the state to survive. It could be modelled on Steve Hanke’s (of John Hopkins University) preferred solution of a currency board, that when strictly observed removes the state’s ability to create money out of thin air. He recommends this solution to currency debasement and the evils that come with it for Venezuela and the like, linking a distressed emerging market currency to the dollar. But here we are considering stabilising the dollar itself and all the other currencies linked to it. The currency board in this case can only be linked to gold, which has always been the peoples’ money, free of issuer risk. In former times this was the basis of a gold exchange standar