Thursday, May 2, 2013
Will gold survive as an alternate currency?
Gold is certainly a fiat metal. Yet it has been so for 5000 years. Rare, divisible, portable, constant, and intrinsically compelling (beautiful, fascinating). But perhaps most salient is that this peculiar confluence of characteristics makes gold the single most difficult form of wealth for governments to control. They can outlaw private ownership, but that just leads to hoarding. They can demonetize it, but that just leads to the inevitable explosion of value on the secondary market. It survives war, depression, revolution, insurrection, famine, plague and pestilence.
And the invention of precious metal coinage may not have caused the shift from Tyranny to Democracy in Ancient Greece, but it was certainly co-incident and correlative.
Of course, at times of great economic stability, its use can be limiting to growth and prosperity. Nothing is perfect on this earth.
If you feel this is a time of great economic stability you're probably pretty wealthy. And even if you're wealthy, you may have some connection to the vast middle class that is suffering through stagnant wages and drowning in debt and afflicted by horrible inflation associated to rents, health care and education and fuel.
If you feel this is a time of great economic instability, you should look back through the history of other periods of instability to understand the use and performance of gold in the preservation of private wealth during those periods.
And act accordingly.