The return of a practical system

The gold standard broke down five times in (mainly) the 19th century — 1796, 1847, 1857, 1866 and 1915 — the first and last because of the need for war armaments (to fight Napoleon and Germany respectively) far beyond what was then available in gold reserves, the middle three due to the bankruptcy of large banks.

The first took 20 years to recover from and the gold standard restored. The middle three took no more than a couple of years. The last recovery spluttered into life for a few years before being given up in 1931. The final restitution of the gold standard is yet to be agreed –or, in my view, will be taken out of the hands of governments by a consortium of multinational corporations. .

Between times, the printed money regime broke down four times and had to be patched up in meetings in Genoa in 1922, Bretton Woods in 1944, Smithsonian Institution in 1971 and Louvre Accord in 1987. Money printing has broken down again in 2008 and has not been repaired yet. Because of the damage the American dollar has done throughout this period it will not feature in any solution.

The only two candidates that are given serious attention are the gold-backed Special Drawing Rights of the International Monetary Fund or the gold standard tout court. If the latter is initially set up with a gold price of $10,000 per ounce — it’s now $1240 — it will enable all banks to have a reserve ratio of 40% — the average of all successful banks throughout the whole period of the industrial revolution in England in the 19th century.

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