Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gold past and future

Its price has never been zero, but it's got plenty of leeway to fall. My look at the history and prospects of gold, including the quixotic notion that the gold standard should return: "The Gleam of Gold." Excerpt:
Nor is it clear that a resurrected gold standard would have credibility. To a greater degree than in earlier eras, governments today would have to convince markets that they would not simply abandon a gold standard during times of economic stress. Such credibility was easier to achieve when metal-backed money was the norm and before the world saw multiple historical episodes of commodity standards being cast aside.

In the event that the U.S. adopted a new gold standard, one plausible consequence would be an enormous increase in gold prices. Substantial gold backing of the money supply could require the government to establish convertibility at a price several times higher than current levels. (Alternatively, to keep gold prices stable, policymakers would have to allow the money supply to contract drastically, leading to severe deflation.)

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