Guest Post: China, Inflation & Gold: China Created Paper Money And Paper Money Then Created Inflation
From Darryl Robert Schoon of 321 Gold
China, Inflation & Gold: China Created Paper Money And Paper Money Then Created Inflation
Ralph T. Foster in his invaluable book, Fiat Paper Money, The History and Evolution of Our Currency, writes that paper money made its first appearance in Szechwan, a remote province of China early in the 11th century.
Because of a shortage of copper coins,
provincial officials had begun circulating iron coins; but the
difference in value and weight between the two metals caused unexpected
As Foster writes: [housewives needed] one and one-half pounds of iron [coins] to buy one pound of salt…Paper
was the answer. People began to deposit their iron money in money shops
and exchanged deposit receipts to transact business.
The money shops’ deposit receipts then
began circulating as money. But the money shops soon issued more deposit
receipts than their supply of coins and by 1022, confidence had eroded in both the notes and the supporting iron money [and] government authorities closed the private note shops.
When the Chinese government intervened,
the government quickly discovered the advantages paper money - at least
to the issuers. The Sung dynasty immediately banned the issuance of
paper notes by private money shops and on January 12, 1024, the Sung court directed the imperial treasury to issue national paper money for general use.
In the beginning, the imperial treasury
backed its paper notes with cash coins equal to 29% of the paper money
issued. Eventually, however, the Sung, like each succeeding dynasty,
would print far more money than it actually possessed in backing.
The consequent loss of confidence in paper money caused Chinese scholars to
question the nature of money...Ye Shi (1150-1223) spoke out against
excessive amounts of what he called “empty money” when he observed how
paper inflation hurt the economy; and scholar Hu Zhiyu (1127-1295) concluded
that only backing gave paper value and blamed the retreat from
convertibility for the loss of public confidence.. paper money, the
child, is dependent on precious metals, the mother. Inconvertible notes
are therefore “orphans who lost their mother in childbirth”. (page 19)
For the next 600 years, succeeding
dynasties would each attempt to utilize the advantages of paper money
and avoid its disadvantages. Not one dynasty was able to do so. All
attempts to use paper money ended in runaway inflation and dynastic
By 1661, China finally learned its lesson
and the new Qing dynasty officially outlawed paper money. Regarding
China’s 600 year experiment, Foster writes:
Over the course of 600 years, five
dynasties had implemented paper money and all five made frequent use of
the printing press to solve problems. Economic catastrophe and political
chaos inevitably followed. Time and again, officials looked to paper
money for instant liquidity and the immediate transfer of wealth. But
its ostensible virtues could not withstand its tragic legacy: those who
held it as a store of value found that in time all they held were
worthless pieces of paper. (page 29)
Today, almost 1,000 years after paper
money first appeared and 350 years after China banned its use, China’s
is again issuing excessive amounts of paper money; and, once again,
paper money’s initial prosperity is about to give way to inflation and
economic chaos in the celestial kingdom.
Southern Weekly, a Chinese language publication, recently noted: China
has not only been the country that prints money at the fastest rate but
also been the country with the largest money supply in the world in the
past decade. China’s M2, a broad measure of money supply, was up 19.46%
at the end of November from a year earlier...This compares with 3.3%
and 2.5% of annual M2 growth in the US and Japan respectively over the
China's money supply, M2-to-GDP ratio over
the past decade is the highest in the world. The nation with the
longest history of excessive money printing and consequent inflation has
clearly forgotten its past. The past, however, has not forgotten China.
2011: CHINA, INFLATION & THE PRICE OF GOLD
Asian nations, China and India in
particular, have a long history with gold. Precious metals as a hedge
against chaos is deeply embedded in Asian cultures and when chaos takes
the form of inflation, gold is the default hedge; and, today, inflation
is on the rise.
China raised interest rates for the
third time since mid-October ahead of a report forecast to show
inflation accelerated to the fastest pace in 30 months. - February 8, 2011, Bloomberg News
This has profound implications for the
price of gold. As inflation continues to increase, the buying of
physical gold by the Chinese will send the price of gold skyrocketing.
In fact, it has already begun.
On February 2nd, the Financial Times reported: Fears
of inflation have also driven demand for gold as a retail investment…
Precious metals traders in London and Hong Kong said on Wednesday they
were stunned by the strength of Chinese buying in the past month. “The
demand is unbelievable. The size of the orders is enormous,” said one
senior banker, who estimated that China had imported about 200 tonnes in
On February 8th, Karen Maley in Australia’s Business Spectator discussed this growing phenomenon in her article, China’s gold tsunami: It’s
not hard to understand the growing Chinese enthusiasm for gold.
Officially, China’s inflation rate was 4.6 per cent in December, but
many believe the actual inflation rate is considerably higher. But
Chinese savers earn a paltry interest rate of 2.75 per cent on one-year
deposits, which means that they face negative real interest rates.
Faced with these dismal returns,
Chinese households and businesses have been pouring money into physical
assets, such as food, real estate, and commodities as a hedge against
inflation. Chinese authorities are now trying to quell property market
speculation by making it more difficult for buyers to get bank finance
for their second and third investment properties, and have begun
experimenting with property taxes in some cities.
This has caused Chinese investors to
turn to gold. According to the Sprott newsletter, China, which is
already the world’s largest gold producer, imported more than 209 metric
tons of gold in the first ten months of 2010 alone. This compares with
the estimated 45 metric tons it imported in all of 2009.
DON’T WORRY ABOUT 2012
2011 IS HERE
The response to the 2008 global collapse
set in motion an even greater danger - runaway inflation. In 2009 world
governments attempted to offset the global collapse in demand with
historic levels of liquidity. The excessive printing of money has now
led to higher prices.
Prices, especially food prices are rapidly rising. Tyler Durden, www.zerohedge.com, makes this point with stunning clarity: One
of the benefits of America finally seeing what Zimbabwe went through as
it entered hyperinflation, ignoring for a second that the Zimbabwe
stock market was the best performing market, putting Bernanke's
liquidity pump to shame, is that very soon everyone will be naked, once
companies finally realize they have no choice but to pass through
surging input costs. And while some may be ecstatic by the S&P's
modest rise YTD, it is nothing compared to what virtually every single
agricultural product has done in the first month of 2011. To wit: Corn
spot up 7.76%, wheat up 5.63%, Rice up 10.08%, Hogs up 10.16%, Sugar up
5.64%, Orange Juice up 3.33%, and cotton.... up 17.08%. That's in one
Rapidly rising food prices have already
contributed to governments falling in Tunisia and Egypt. Other
governments, well aware of the risk that inflationary food prices pose
to their continued rule, are now stockpiling food to prevent further
This buying will only drive the cost of food even higher: Jim
Gerlach, of commodity brokerage A/C Trading, said: "Sovereign nations
are beginning to stockpile food to prevent unrest." "You artificially
stimulate much higher demand when nations start to increase stockpiles."
"This is only the start of the panic
buying," said Ker Chung Yang, commodities analyst at Singapore-based
Phillip Futures. "I expect we'll have more countries coming in and
buying grain.- Read here
INFLATION & THE FUTURE PRICE OF GOLD
Even the hardened paper boys on Wall
Street are aware of inflation’s impact on the price of gold. The
meteoric rise of gold in the late 1970s was caused by rapidly rising
prices. In the last decade, however, gold began moving steadily higher
as did all commodities in a disinflationary atmosphere. That, however,
is about to change.
With gold already moving higher, the
increasing inflationary impetus will send the price of gold far beyond
its present price. Gold’s spectacular ascent in the 1970s is now about
to be dwarfed.
Last night, I, Ralph T. Foster, our wives
and another couple had dinner together and the topic turned to the
future price of gold. There was agreement that while its ascent was
certain, gold’s ultimate price was a matter of pure conjecture since the
reference points used to value that price would be virtually worthless
pieces of paper money.
History is the context within which our
present circumstances present themselves. Of late, change has been so
rapid that many believe the past is merely that which preceded the
present. They are wrong.
History is about to repeat itself, albeit
in a new iteration. Paper money’s journey to the west and back again is
about to reach its fatal climax. Paper money’s ten-century drama is
almost over; and while a new and better era will replace it, the
collapse of the present era will be unprecedented in magnitude.