U.S. Gold Standard Debate Heats Up on 40th Anniversary of "Nixon Shock'

When U.S. President Richard M. Nixon announced on Aug.15, 1971 that the United States would no longer adhere to the gold standard - the mechanism that fixed the U.S. dollar's value to that of gold − the move was cheered.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped nearly 4%, and The New York Times gushed, "We unhesitatingly applaud the boldness with which the President has moved."

But now, 40 years later, there is a new gold-standard debate and the decision is being examined anew.

Proponents say the move had to be made, since the gold standard needlessly restricted the U.S. Federal Reserve's ability to manage the money supply, particularly during times of economic distress.

To critics, however, the once-heralded decision has lost much of its former luster. They say that abandoning the gold standard has served only to devalue the dollar, making everything else comparatively more expensive.

Here at Money Morning we've talked about the implications of the gold standard debate, as well as how our readers can capitalize on gold as a safe-haven investment - especially given the "yellow metal's" ever-increasing value versus the dollar.

Since the dollar became a "floating" currency 40 years ago, it has plummeted in value against gold. In 1971, a dollar was worth 1/35 of an ounce of gold; today it is worth about 1/1,750 of an ounce.

A return to the gold standard "would solve the unemployment problem, because expensive capital makes people use more labor," Money Morning Contributing Editor Martin Hutchinson said recently. "And it would indeed enforce fiscal discipline."

The gold-standard debate is a topic that we've studied here at Money Morning - as part of our ongoing analysis of the ever-changing global-investing environment. On this auspicious anniversary, we're making these reports available to you from our archives, free of charge.

For instance:

  • To read more about the benefits of a return to the gold standard - and why Washington will probably never do it, click here.
  • To read more about the dollar's demise and how to protect yourself from it, click here.
  • To read about how the sale of now-unused U.S. gold reserves could help reduce the national debt, click here.
  • To read Money Morning metals commodity expert Peter Krauth's prediction on how high the price of gold will go, click here.
[Editor's Note: We're making $26,000 of our very best investment advice available to charger subscribers of our new Private Briefing service - for $5. Each day, Money Morning Executive Editor William Patalon III has one-on-one "private briefings" with our individual gurus. This new service is designed to provide readers with access to some of those briefings. We're offering this special rate to charter subscribers. To find out more, please click here.]

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About the Author

David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.

Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.

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