So asks Dan Crawford (www.angrybearblog.com) in an article* which Lorimer Wilson, editor ofwww.munKNEE.com, has reformatted and edited below for the sake of clarity and brevity to ensure a fast and easy read. (Please note that this paragraph must be included in any article re-posting to avoid copyright infringement.) Crawford goes on to say:
The 18th century gold standard system that so many people view as a free market alternative to central banks determining credit conditions, money supply, etc., was not really a free market. The system was dependent on the central bank, in this case the Bank of England and later the U.S. Government, offering to buy all gold tendered to it at a price established by the government. Moreover, that price had to be far above any foreseeable market clearing price. If it was less than any foreseeable market clearing price the banking system could not accumulate the goldstocks necessary for the system to work. If the price was too low private individuals would see it as a one way bet to accumulate gold stocks, much as they did in the 1960s.
Many economists believe that the supply of gold at the price of $21/oz. was too low and that this, together with the French and the U.S. holding too large a share of the gold stocks, was the fundamental driving force behind the 1929-33 world wide depression. Yes, Bernanke blamed the depression on the central banks, but they were just following the rules the gold system imposed on them. The depression ended in each advanced countries soon after each left the gold standard. Moreover, Roosevelt did much to end the depression when he arbitrarily raised the price of gold to $35, increasing the world supply of gold by two-thirds.
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In the 1960s the problems of an inadequate supply of gold reemerged and Nixon solved the problem by [having] the price of gold free to be set by the market. In 1969 there were no significant central bank purchases or sales of gold so the 1969 price of around $39 probably was a good market clearing price that balanced the supply of gold and the non-monetary demand for gold.
Of course in a free market there is no reason for the price to remain stable and in the early 1970s I conducted a major study of the supply and non-monetary demand for gold –industrial, jewelery and hoarding–… [and concluded that,] given the price elasticities of demand and supply, to balance the supply and non-monetary demand for gold the real price of gold would have to rise at a 3% to 5% annual rate. Since then many things have impacted gold markets including the Russians selling their gold stocks, other central banks selling gold, technological improvements in gold mining, Japanese stagnation, India legalizing private gold holdings and gold imports and the emergence of China as a major market. [However,] had the real price of gold risen since 1969 at a 3% annual rate that would [have generated] a current price of some $900 and if the trend growth rate had been 5% the current price would be about $2,225 as compared to the current market price of [marginally less than] $1400.
Given the trends outlined above I would conclude that to re-establish a new gold exchange standard probably would require a gold price of about $5,000. [That being said,] I wonder if any of those talking about re-establishing a gold standard have thought about the implications of [such a new price level for gold]? If people are scared of the inflationary impact of QE2, [it begs the question:]
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