The Best Way Back to a Gold Standard

By:  Bob Adelmann
11/11/2011
       
The Best Way Back to a Gold Standard

In his Forbes magazine article published Thursday, Nathan Lewis makes it sound easy to get back to a gold standard. After all, it has been accomplished numerous times in history around the world, including in America following the Civil War.

The first way is a “return to prior parity,” which would mean making a dollar redeemable in gold at $35 an ounce. Lewis points out that this would be impossible as it would entail a huge shrinkage in the money supply and a consequent depression. So option one is out.

The second way is to make a dollar redeemable in gold at a figure close to gold’s current price at between $1,500 and $1,700 an ounce. Lewis notes that this would also require a major restructuring — “a long price adjustment” — in his words, and “would probably cause a recession.” Not such a good option.

Lewis says there is a third option: Simply replace the currency with another one and make it redeemable in gold at some arbitrary value that the present gold supply would support. He points out that although the dollar is weak and getting weaker, few are ready for this. This option would apply only after the complete destruction of the dollar, something similar to what happened in the German Weimar Republic in the early 1920s. So that option isn’t feasible either. At least not yet.

In his Forbes magazine article published Thursday, Nathan Lewis makes it sound easy to get back to a gold standard. After all, it has been accomplished numerous times in history around the world, including in America following the Civil War.

The first way is a “return to prior parity,” which would mean making a dollar redeemable in gold at $35 an ounce. Lewis points out that this would be impossible as it would entail a huge shrinkage in the money supply and a consequent depression. So option one is out.

The second way is to make a dollar redeemable in gold at a figure close to gold’s current price at between $1,500 and $1,700 an ounce. Lewis notes that this would also require a major restructuring — “a long price adjustment” — in his words, and “would probably cause a recession.” Not such a good option.

Lewis says there is a third option: Simply replace the currency with another one and make it redeemable in gold at some arbitrary value that the present gold supply would support. He points out that although the dollar is weak and getting weaker, few are ready for this. This option would apply only after the complete destruction of the dollar, something similar to what happened in the German Weimar Republic in the early 1920s. So that option isn’t feasible either. At least not yet.

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