Guest Post: How The Printing Press Is Leading To The Demise Of The U.S.A.

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by The Pragmatic Capitalist

There is, perhaps, no greater symbol of the slow decline of the United States, than the money we carry in our wallets. Of course, the United States isn’t the first nation to suffer similar currency problems.  The parallels between the modern day United States and 19th century Britain are striking.  Great Britain suffered from a similar currency decline as the world’s most powerful economy began to decay.

The British Pound was the world’s reserve currency for much of the 19th century until their economic power declined and the world lost faith in their ability to responsibly manage the currency.   Ironically, it was the Seven Years war (or The French Indian war) which began this precipitous decline.  The British doubled the national debt as they battled for the colonies and borrowed massively from European bankers.  This borrowing ultimately resulted in higher tariffs/taxes and led to the American Revolution.

Expensive wars and expansionism resulted in massive debts that ultimately sapped the country of their economic prowess.  At the time the United States was a robust, up and coming emerging market that was viewed as the wave of the future (this sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?).  As the power shifted so too did the confidence.  This change in confidence compounded the problems in Britain as investors began to shift their money from Britain to the United States.  The following chart display’s Britain’s severe financial problems that resulted from the wars and a failed attempt to print their way out of their problems. The British Empire’s reliance on debt and bankers ultimately crushed them.  The British Empire never recovered.  The bankers, however, prospered.

Having the reserve currency comes with a great deal of responsibility. Over the course of the last 15 years the United States has abused this power with reckless spending, wars abroad and a printing press that just won’t quit. As I mentioned many times during the financial crisis last fall, the dollar as a reserve currency likely saved our skin. Being the reserve currency made the dollar the obvious safehaven currency. The world was too dependent on the well-being of the dollar for it to implode. If it hadn’t been the reserve currency we probably would have faced a much more harmful crisis. But now the world is tired of seeing us abuse this privilege just as they grew tired of Britain’s abuse of the reserve currency.

There is now a massive change occurring in the international financial markets.  Capital once flowed into the United States because we were the responsible high growth nation.  But Americans grew to take this for granted.  Saving money and balancing check books became unnecessary because there was over $2 billion in foreign funds pouring into the United States on a daily basis.  But now, nations are diversifying out of the United States.

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported the massive shift in reserves out of the dollar:

Central banks have been shifting their record reserves into the euro at the expense of the U.S. dollar. Investors may not follow, with America’s saving rate and trade balance data back at levels that prevailed when the European currency was unveiled in 1999.The CHART OF THE DAY shows the percentage of allocated world currency reserves in dollars has fallen as holdings in euros increased in the past decade, according to quarterly data compiled by the International Monetary Fund. Also tracked are the U.S. personal-saving rate and trade balance as a percentage of gross domestic product.

A second chart shows the Intercontinental Exchange Inc.’s Dollar Index setting lows around the times Bear Stearns Cos. collapsed and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. went bankrupt. Short-term interest rate differentials favor the euro over the dollar, though only by 0.75 percentage point, the data show.

The dollar’s position as the world reserve currency has been called into question since reaching an almost three-year high in March. The currency has been under siege as the Treasury sells a record amount of debt to finance a budget deficit that totaled $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009 ended Sept. 30.

If foreigners continue to view America as a reckless guardian of the reserve currency they will slowly stop pouring money into the United States.  This will ultimately destroy the great nation we built as the negative feedback loop feeds on itself and the lack of funding inhibits domestic growth while the debts gnaw at the Treasury’s leg.

The secular damage is most evident in the crashing trade weighted dollar.  Investors cheer the recent rally in stocks despite the fact that the currency in their pockets is down 25% from its peak while the S&P 500 also remains over 25% from its peak.

In a recent story I quoted a piece by Ron Paul:

An audit would expose the Fed as a massive fraud perpetrated on this country, enriching a privileged few bankers at the top of our economic food chain, and leaving the rest of us with massively devalued dollars which we are forced to use by law.  An audit would make people realize that, while Bernie Madoff defrauded a lot of investors for a lot of money, the Fed has defrauded every one of us by destroying the value of our money.  An honest and full accounting of how the money system really works in this country would mean there is not much of a chance the American people would stand for it anymore.

He could not be more correct.  The government has grown accustomed to borrowing their way out of their mistakes, but as citizens we need to hold our government accountable for their mistakes.  For too long we have allowed the Federal Reserve to devalue our money as the U.S. government runs up debts they can’t properly manage.  The world is tired of it.  The U.S. citizens should be furious about this.   We should audit the Fed, reduce our dependency on reckless banks, and we should hold our government accountable and force them to do what every responsible American is currently in the process of doing – managing their checkbooks responsibly.  If we do not, I can guarantee you that the America we have grown accustomed to will be a chapter in the Chinese history books.

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brown_hornet's picture

Why blame war spending so much.  I at least feel safer with the big military.  Government debt to prop up the banksters is what scares me.

BobPaulson's picture

Safer? I guess their propaganda machine is working on somebody. Just keep screaming at that photo of Emmanuel Goldstein and drinking your Victory Gin.

Anonymous's picture

Are kidding me??? What makes you think the Military is on your side?

Anonymous's picture

The military swear to protect the constitution. In the end they might be the last hope of the Republic.

Winston Smith 2009's picture

So do the politicians who tell them what to do.  And we all know how well they stick to that pledge.

Clampit's picture

Yes but are you safer? If you get a chance watch "War Made Easy" on Netflix. Do you think our war machine will be effective when the rest of the world refuses to deliver the funding? Do you think we can militarily enforce foreign treasury purchases or currency exchange rates?

Anonymous's picture

The US is not like Britain.

Americans as a whole tend to focus only on bad reviews from biased sources. The USA is still a beacon for most of humanity. Wherever you go around this small planet, you may hear complaints about the American govt. and its policies etc
but generally Americans are welcomed. Most foreigners view American foreign policy as well-intentioned but naive.

But compared to Europeans and especially the British, Americans enjoy a greater degree of trust because they are not 2 faced.

The US will never be like Britain because it does not have an imperial history of foreign exploitation.

Think back to the three Opium Wars that Britain disingeniously engineered. Britain compelled China to open its market to imports principally opium.
Now, thats a true embodiment of a narco-terrorist state.
What else can you call a state that peddles narcotics ?
On top of that, Britain demanded and received 'war reparations' from a tecnologically inferior state for wars it promoted to achieve its imperial interests. Those wars bankrupted China. You can trace China's mistrust of Europeans back to their experiences.

Consider the US, despite its history of military conflicts in the asian theatre, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia etc;
and its now generally accepted 'misguided' foreign policies at that time, it has not lead to a permanent state of disgust and disgrace for its misadventures.

By contrast, Americans are very much welcomed in most parts of Asia. Please note, I do not include the Middle East.

Anonymous's picture

cause it is waste of money and human lifes

Anonymous's picture

i don't feel in the least bit safer - quite the contrary....
the great drain on the treasury by the war has weakened
our economic situation substantially all thanks to
imperial overstretch....

our blood gushing wars of aggression are a massive
destruction of life predicated on a phony war with
al-qaeda....i don't feel safer when usa intelligence
destroys buildings in controlled demolitions using
military grade nanothermite on civilian targets....

all money spent on destruction and world domination
is money which could be spent on domestic economic
development and capital formation, jobs growth,
and prosperity instead of the carnage and destruction
of world conquest....

and yet it is the vast military industrial complex
whose ravenous appetite leads to the bankster
cartel which wraps its tentacles around the people
of this nation to suck them dry....

Anonymous's picture

A large military pointed in a different direction (thier own citizens) has led to to fall of many Countries. With the power of our military and intelligence agencies, and it's propaganda machine; this would not be impossible here. Bases in so many cities and so many dependent on income for the military...we all should be concerned.

Jerome Lester Horwitz's picture

Watch how quickly that big military that makes you feel safe gets turned against the American people when enough of us Americans finally rally together and threaten an end to The Fed!

The military is not asking soldiers if they will fire on Americans for nothing!

SDRII's picture

"* Swirling controversy - Some fear that by allowing the dollar to decline, the Fed is playing with fire, risking a destabilizing crash in the currency.  I disagree.  I view a weaker dollar as an adjunct to US monetary policy that helps prevent inflation from falling too low and is a stimulant to growth. "


MS economist

Assetman's picture

Yeah... I'm sure his bonus (which will be converted from USD to something else) depends on it.

ShiftCTRL's picture

YouTube - Tom Woods - The Great Awakening - Ending The Federal Reserve

Anonymous's picture

don't you mean 18th century?

lookma's picture

the 18th century = 1700s, the middle of which is arguably when the pound began its descent

Anonymous's picture

Too bad the general American population doesn't undertand this fact.

Prophet of Wise's picture

The U.S. is insolvent, bankrupt under any objective rational analysis. Our ad hominem debt-to-infinity money print factory notwithstanding, our hour of reckoning cometh like the dawn. It is as inevitable as the passing of time. This psychological concept we conceived in that long ago age when our reason became hoodwinked will be evaporated as quickly as one blows out a candle and there will be nothing left but blood in the streets. Hang on to that irrational folly of value media which man calls his sacred dollar as long as you wish. A fool and his money will soon part. 

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Help me out here:  what's the alternative to the Fed?  I ask this in all honesty, and not at all facetiously.  The purpose of the Fed (perhaps nominally) is to depoliticize monetary policy.  I think everyone would agree that having some sort of disconnect between the Treasury and the Fed is a good idea.  We don't just want to push the Fed's powers back into the power of the Executive, correct?  So we want some sort of depoliticized entity counterbalancing the tendancy for the Gov't to rint, print, print its way to glorious short-term needs.  

The arguments seem to be that (1) the fiat currency is manipulable, and that's bad, and (2) the Fed is captured by banks, and that's bad.

As to (1), replacing the fiat currency with a standard based on a real world entity, like gold, silver, or antimatter, is increasingly problematic as physics makes it easier to manipulate whatever entity you would base it on.  You base your standard on gold, and then you find out that its possible to transmute something to gold, whammo -- you are fucked.  That may sound laughable, but you should really look at the state of where nuclear physics is at and where things are going.  Furthermore, any fixed pool of resource you allocate as the source of money is going to be stuck in stone and thereby unable to grow and shrink WHEN NEEDED.  I think it is naïve to believe that a gold standard would provide the flexibility needed to react to REAL crisis.  In other words:  just because crooks are abusing fiat currency doesn't mean fiat currency is a bad tool.  Lots of people abuse guns.

As to (2), banks are going to have to have some input for the Fed (or whatever you'd replace the Fed with), because they make loans and monetary policy directly affects what happens with those loans.  You take the banks input out of the Fed and suddenly you will freeze up confidence in lending.  If you want MORE independence from the banks at the Fed, then figure out how to accomplish that without scaring off people who would lend money and don't want you to inflate away their loans into valuelessness.

Enough pointing out the problems;  let's hear some solutions that aren't reactionary tripe.

BennyBoy's picture

There is no alternative to the FED.

There is no alternative to the FED.

There is no alternative to the FED.

We also support a strong dollar policy.



Anonymous's picture

Here's a link. Book--Web of Debt--a good history. Conclusions and recommendations subject to criticism, but serious and substantive.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Thank you for the recommendation.  I'll take a look.

ddtrader's picture

Points are myopic at best...."people abuse guns"??? Yes they do and people die as a result....good analogy.  More will die from abuse of the dollar then from gun abuse.  When the DXY goes to 52 I would be interested to hear your points again.  

You want some solutions??  Here you are:

1)  Cut local, state and federal spending by 25% immediately.  Break the system of gold plated benefits and pensions for union employees that are paid by taxpayers. 

2)  Cut "education" spending.  Approximately 68% of all local taxes go to support a failed educational system.  Something is very wrong here.  Education starts in the home almost immediatley after an infant comes home.  A simple program revolving around reading just 1 book a day to your kids will vastly improve reading skills, which are the lynchpin to a quality education.  

3)  Term limits on politicians.  Let's make "political service" actually mean something. 

Just a start...want more??  


tip e. canoe's picture

"let's hear some solutions that aren't reactionary tripe."

thanks for the invite.  here's some possibilities:

(1) democratize the FED, i.e. give the other branches equal power to the NY & Washington branches.  just like the Senate.

also coinciding with taking away the banks' power to create $ & forcing them to maintain strict reserve ratio requirements.

this proposal may not as radical as most would wish, but for those that believe so, would it not be a step in the right direction?

(2) start creating complimentary currency platforms, a modern-day version of the Worgl experiment:

(3) start implementing measures on a local/state level similar to the zero cost economy model (courtesy of ZH contributor GWash):


constructive criticism welcomed.  there's plenty of folks here with sharp minds & soft hearts to begin the process of creative discussion while we continue to throw punches.

let's face it: the dollar is doomed to decline.

time to consider alternatives yes?


You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Good ideas.  

#1 is critical, as an effective remedy to the corrupting influence of power is the distribution (and hence dilution) of that power among more entities. 

#2 is smart;  in fact, I wonder if the E.U. doesn't have an advantage over our system in that its breadbasket approach & retained national currencies doesn't dilute the potential corruptive effect of a single currency policy-maker.

#3 is also interesting.

Thank you for your input.  Much appreciated!!

Anonymous's picture

#1 could happen with enough of a political push. (I would also like to repeal the 17th amendment, so you can see my bias.)
#2, I can't see happening as direct consumer currency - but indirectly - thru credit and debit transactions, maybe. Are the CA IOUs and various muni bond funds headed in that direction (personally I use a no load, muni bond fund like a checking account for big ticket items).
#3, good luck - not sure how it could happen outside of small fiscally responsible, homogeneous communities with the geographic conditions that favor it -- seems very utopian. Although I think we all would agree that a technology that allow for the decentralized creation of a modest amount of energy would revolutionize large sectors of the economy.

tip e. canoe's picture

#1 agreed that it could happen...key would be to educate as many citizens as possible on the way money is really created in this system.  too many of us continue to have the curtain pulled before their eyes (i choose to believe that our fairO leader is one of them -- not that that ignorance excuses his behavior).

#2 yes, the examples that u made is a variation of a 'legalized' alternative currency.  also you make a good point, it would not work as a strictly consumer-based currency, then again, i choose not to label myself as strictly a 'consumer'.  a currency like what was done in worgl would only work amongst those who are willing to trade their goods & services with others who have other desired goods & services.  it would require a revaluation of what money is -- a medium of exchange vs. a store of wealth as someone else here mentioned.

#3 utopian perhaps.  but if you read his stuff, you will see it's utopian in a very buckminster fuller sort of way, i/o/w there's alot of practicality behind it.  he's definitely put a lot of serious thought into it and you got give it to him for at least thinking out of the box.

what you described is what John Robb calls resilient communities.  you might be interested in his blog:

there's alot of cross-pollination with what is contained here, as i'm quite positive he reads ZH frequently.

thanks for the conversation anon and thanks for the inspiration U Can't.  it's refreshing to collectively consider the light every so often admist the darkness that is enveloping us all.

Assetman's picture

Fair enough... unfortunately, one would need to audit the Fed to determine the magnitude and underlying nature of the problem before an effective solution could even be considered.  But most of us are speculating what the Fed is doing anyway, so...

Congress has the consititutional authority to print money and effectively conduct monetary policy, and the Treasury has the ability to carry out those marching orders.  As you well know, that isn't a permanent solution, because that would be much too highly highly politicized process.

The problem as it stands today is that the Federal Reserve-- and its monetary policy-- have become highly politicized.  It's effective ownership is highly concentrated in a handful of TBTF institutions, and those members have essentially limitless lobbying power in Washington.

In it's simplist terms, the Federal Reserve needs to be radically restructured and de-centralized.  Effective ownership needs to be broadened well beyond the handful of the largest banking institutions, the center of power needs to be taken away from the New York Fed and spread among the other regions, and policy need decisions need to be more democratic.  The Federal Reserve chairmanship, should perhaps should be ablolished given what the current one in power is doing.

More basic than that, the Fed needs to re-direct who is ultimately serves.  Right now, there is little doubt that the Fed primarily serves the interests of the few member banks to which it is beholden.  Clearly, the Fed has mandates of targeting inflation (or preventing deflation) while maximizing employment to conduct monetary policy.  When those come 2 forces into conflict, as we see now, it appears the Fed's decisionmaking is seriously impaired.

While it would nice to see the Fed's primary goal as serving the American people, that servitude isn't really that pragmatic.  More pragmatic, perhaps, is for the Fed to serve primarily serve the interests of community banks and credit unions equally to those that are deemed "too big to fail".

This might mean the Federal Reserve is scrapped and renamed-- or it's just restructured and serves under a "new and improved" Federal Reserve Act.  But it is in serious need of a radical restructuring nonetheless.

Eh, it's at least it's a stab at a solution... 

Anonymous's picture

You stated: "Congress has the consititutional authority to print money"

No, they don't. They only have the authority to coin money. The founding fathers had experience with fiat currency and hyperinflation and tried to keep us from making the mistake again. Sadly, they failed.

Excerpt from Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution: "To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;"

Assetman's picture

Thanks for the fine-tuning there, anon.  I would gather that "coining" in the context of "regulating the Value thereof" would roughly translate into effectively "printing" when necessary.  Perhaps that makes me dead wrong.

And yes, bringing up the "founding fathers" experience with fiat is correct. In no way do you want the executive or legislative branch to handle montary policy as a "permanent" fix.  Having Congress, however, serve a "temporary and limited" role, however, may be needed if you want real central bank reform.

Anonymous's picture

The Continental “wasn’t worth a Continental” in large measure because of the massive British counterfeiting operation during the Rev War and not because of the fiat status of the Continental. That every “Dollar” willed into existence by the Fed represents debt of the US Government—i.e., every US citizen’s shared debt to the European banking interests—makes the Federal Reserve note one more step removed from the sound, debt-free currency represented by the US Note issued by the Treasury prior to 1914. Discipline is what’s required. Consider Milton Friedman’s computer program that would replace the Fed by issuing debt-free currency at a rate roughly equal to the growth rate of the economy.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

I appreciate your well thought out reply.  That's a great start.


Anonymous's picture

Who said "we" wanted a depoliticized entity at all? A gold standard is not at all impractical. It existed for well over 6000 years. It's not like we evolved out of it. It's not that Richard Nixon just came up with a genious plan to liberate us from a barbaric metal.

"Elasticity" in the money supply is a rhetorical joke that northeastern banking interests paid Ivy League economists to make up. Within those economics departments during the turn of the century, the debates were fascinating. Banks needed an intellectual base to support what is socialization of their losses. Banks simply create money. When they loan money, they simply add zeroes to an account. They know they have a printing press to later backfill the money created on a ledger with physical bills. There big issue is when someone spends the money outside of their bank. And thus, they created a central bank to have credits transfered between accounts at the Fed. No central authority can prevent this, because the central authority enables this.

So you say "think about the developments in nuclear physics", fine. Say you could design a process to produce more gold, what's that going to take? I imagine that'll take a lot of resources. A tremendous amount of energy. And you'll probably need something of equal mass to the mass of gold you're attempting to create. So what happens when everyone realizes you can create gold using a huge amount of energy and a mass of some other substance? What gold can be exchanged for and whatever that other substance can be exchanged for will converge. Your arbitrage would be eliminated and someone would say "why would spend so many resources just trying to create more of the medium of exchange? Just use the resources you have to exchange for other resources." This is the beauty of the gold standard. You're only ever exchanging things for things. We've never left a barter economy. We've (through the voluntary interactions with other human beings) just created a medium of exchange that solves the "coincidence of wants" problem. Gold won out as the primary medium because of other features that I'm sure 30 people on this site would gladly discuss.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Please pardon my confusion as to your last paragraph, but when a money supply exists based on a resource, is it not imperative to know how much of that resource is available, at least in a crude sense?

Because if you make a loan, today, of 1 unit of gold, with the understanding that there are 100 units of gold in the world, then the terms you set are well and truly screwed when it turns out there are actually 200 units of gold in the world.  As an analogy, runaway counterfeiting of currency would surely not help the stability of lending, I would think.

So yes, gold is a physical thing.  But how much gold is out there?  Do you know how much is stored away?  And when a mass of gold "appears", would that not destabilize things, such as pallettes of newly printed $20s being dropped off by the Fed?



Anonymous's picture

Problem is I doubt we would ever see "TRILLIONS" of pallets with gold on them....

Anonymous's picture

Re: Gold

Drill deep enough and one comes to a strata where re-crystalization of silica-alumina occurs. Water is forced out of the matrix and is EXTREMELY mineralized. Zeolitic exchange can seperate elements at a reasonable cost. The technology is more practical than clean energy. And hot geothermal is a byproduct.
What would happen if all pass-through taxes and mandate costs were broken out in the consumer price of an item? Similar to sales tax. I think the 'sheeple' would put quite a bit of pressure on the government to reduce expenditures. Uneducated doesn't heve to translate as stupid. And greed is a usefull tool.

lookma's picture

"As to (1), replacing the fiat currency with a standard based on a real world entity, like gold, silver, or antimatter, is increasingly problematic as physics makes it easier to manipulate whatever entity you would base it on.  You base your standard on gold, and then you find out that its possible to transmute something to gold, whammo -- you are fucked."

You presuppose human designation - why not let the free market work?

Hayek on currency competition:

Ron Paul competing currencies:

More on the same:

clickjaw's picture

As regarding critique no. 1, you have far to much faith in physicists my friend. What you speak of is alchemy, perhaps the most sought after psuedo-science in the world's history. At present, the only way we could transmutate a substance like iron into gold is to recreate conditions close to the early moments of our universe. We could no more do that then destroy the whole world in the process!

However, it is theorized that there are large amounts of resources such as, gold, diamonds, etc., deep within the earth, yet, a technology has not been produced which could withstand the intense pressures that exist at a few hundred miles beneath the surface, so we can only wait and see. Furthermore, who says currency only has to be backed by gold? Couldn't there be a pool of limited natural resources that can back a currency along with gold? Think about it.

We must change to something new, and by new I mean something old. Gold is the best candidate by far. Mankind has invariably acted as god since the beginning of recorded history trying to manipulate markets to their favor in one form or another. It's time to let the market truly be free and rule as the tyrannical monster it is. Yes, the pie is finite, only some can have some while others do not, it not's fair in a childish, playground sense, but if you try to restrain and tame the wild beast of market, who longs to be free, you will arouse its wrath and it will destroy you, as we are seeing now.

tip e. canoe's picture

"Couldn't there be a pool of limited natural resources that can back a currency along with gold? Think about it."

that's a good idea actually.  however, to play devil's advocate for a moment, wouldn't that scenario result in more nations going to war over those limited resources (more than what's happening right now)?

and hasn't human history also shown that gold markets & gold-backed currencies can also be manipulated to benefit the few at the expense of the many?

p.s.  according to CERN, the Large Hadron Collidor is set to fire up again next month.  so U Can't may get his wish sooner than you think (that is, unless he's sucked into a man-made black hole first):


sgt_doom's picture

Actually, that was the original suggestion by Keynes at Bretton Woods meeting in the aftermath of WWII.

And Robert Triffin (economics, Yale) has already destroyed the basis of using a single element as the foundation for any currency (unless, perhaps, it is the promise of human labor).

The proposal for economic democracy, that is, the equal distribution of land and capital, as opposed it the corporate fascist, communist or oligarchic systems which exist today, would make far more sense.

In other words, allow neither the state (Soviet-style communism) nor the corporation (American corporate fascist state we are presently living in) to monopolize land and capital.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

If there is one thing physicists have earned my faith in, it is potential disruptive change capable from that branch of the sciences.  The list of things which were psuedo-science until quite recently is astounding.  Surely as Internet users we appreciate the disruptive change of technology with every key-click?

Yes, a pool of resources would be ideal.  I simply cannot accept the risk of a single element being the backing-store of generic exchange-value.  A single discovery (if it has not already been made already by a nation state or other entity) could provide the equivalent of a perfect counterfeit.

gmrpeabody's picture

I got one...

Sent the freaking ***holes to jail who have used and abused the system for their own greed, politicians included.

That should give us a fresh start.

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Hear hear.  +1 to that.

Until the rule of law applies to all it is no law at all.

Gunther's picture


a complete answer to your question is too long for a comment here, but let me try a few points:
For now I do not think that nuclear physics can produce gold cheaply. In the future that may be different. Anyway, your point has a precedent: After conquering South America Spain took/robbed gold from there and used it in Europe to pay the bills. That lead to inflation and nobody in Spain cared of the real economy where stuff is made – it could always be bought. Stated the consequences short, it did not end well.
Today gold would provide a harsh discipline to any monetary authority; anybody who suspects something fishy demands payment in metal. That would give the little guy way more power then today. Even if everybody empties the bank account, the only thing someone can get is paper that can be printed at will. The bankers know this very well and expanded their power to the point where they create money by adding an entry to a book or database. We are dealing with the mess that the bankers created right now. But under a gold standard were panics too; if yo have ever seen the DOW before 1913 it looked like saw teeth with dents. Boom and bust all the time.
Probably the solution is somewhere between the extremes of pure gold and pure fiat money. To make it more complicated the system should basically be honest, reward success and punish failure independent of size of the entity. That looks like checks and balances plus accountability for everybody.
Accountability in government seems really difficult to achieve, I'll leave that for another day.
Criminal law should only cover fraud in a broader sense; to set rewards properly asymmetric bonuses should be forbidden, so the fund manager gets a percentage of realized gain AND loss. As in real life, paper gains do not count until cashed in but paper losses do count. Risk needs to be limited to a level that is not threatening to the system, leverage for smaller entities is maximal 10:1; if the balance sheet is the size of the economy the maximum permitted leverage is 3:1.
That should be an outline to an answer.



JR's picture

According to figures provided about two years back by Prudent Bear, the Fed was keeping about 1/4 of 1% in deposits as "fractional" reserve money in its system, i.e. 25 cents in receipts for every $100 of debt creation.  Mogambo Guru conputed that, in the final round, to be .00026% in reserves at the time—just enough, I suppose, for the Fed central bankers to continue the refrain that America is on a fractional-reserve system.  I doubt if there's even 25 cents reserve backing for every $100 in this debt-ridden system now, no matter the Fed's refrain.  After all, “saving” is hoarding, n’est-ce pas?

Daedal's picture

You Can't Handle,

First, the quantity of Gold that exists is not really relevant. Let's say, hypothetically, that the amount of Gold doubled overnight. Then, what you'd have is: $1,065 / 2 = New Spot.

Point being, if the quantity of Gold does not change, it would simply appreciate against other goods and services, ie, you'll need less and less Gold to buy certain things. It will be the opposite of inflation -- you're purchasing power will keep increasing, instead of what we have now -- goods and services tend to get more expensive over time. Consider this: do you find it abnormal that you are able to buy a $500 computer that is 6x faster than a $2,000 computer a few years ago? The same would apply for many other goods and services. Gold would simply appreciate in value against other things. As with the computer example, your buying power would increase; you'd be able to get more goods for less gold.

If quantity of Gold diminishes to unreasonable levels, other things will replace the medium of exchange function. I cannot predict what the market will choose, but initially it will likely be Silver. If advanced physics will make it so that Gold can be replicated as easily as it is to print $1 trillion on 1 bill, then the market will find a solution to replace Gold. But it is not up to Ben Bernanke, or me, to dictate or predict what that will be -- or to state that simply b/c we cannot predict what will replace current currency that fiat currency should be maintained. Having said that, in a free market, you can theoretically buy and sell things in any asset that you choose. For instance, you may be able to redeem IBM stock at a grocery store. But, again, that would be up to the free market (the grocery store and its customers). Keep in mind that even in that instance, IBM stock is priced on medium. That's the beauty of having a medium of exchange; it allows for rational transactions to take place. Fiat currency not only strips value over time, it also skews the perceived value of the medium vs the real value, and promotes misallocation of resources and investments.

The Fed need not exist. You'd still be able to deposit Gold at the bank. And the bank can even issue you 'receipts' to that Gold (which we can call paper money) but which, unlike current money, is redeamable in Gold. Consider it like a check.

The difference would be that you would likely pay the bank/holding company a small fee to hold the Gold, like a checking account. Gold that you allow to be lent out, like savings account, would be paid back with principal plus interest (Gold), or silver for instance.

That's just a brainstorm, but hopefully it elucidates some things. More intelligent people than I have opined on this subject, so perhaps you ought to read them as well (Murray Rothbard, for instance).


You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Thank you for your thoughtful response.