Doug French

Floyd Norris writes for the New York Times that it's 1980 all over again.

Discussion of gold has gone from nonexistent a decade ago to the question of whether its price is in bubble territory, and now a policy question in the Republican primary. Ron Paul has been stumping for a return to the gold standard for decades, and the populace has finally caught up.

The issue resonates with young people who worry about a dire future with a dollar crash and nationwide poverty. The gold issue is hot enough that Newt Gingrich has promised to appoint a gold commission, with The Case for Gold coauthor Lewis Lehrman and Jim Grant as cochairman.

When Ronald Reagan went through the gold commission charade in 1981 to satisfy a campaign promise of studying the gold standard question, Lehrman cast one of two dissenting votes on the commission that voted in favor of maintaining the fiat money status quo. The other "no" vote came from Ron Paul himself. As Murray Rothbard explained,

The gold standard was the easiest pledge to dispose of. President Reagan appointed an allegedly impartial gold commission to study the problem — a commission overwhelmingly packed with lifelong opponents of gold. The commission presented its predictable report, and gold was quickly interred.

In similar fashion, Norris and the NYT look to explore the worthiness of a gold standard by citing a University of Chicago survey of 37 economists asking if they agreed that "price-stability and employment outcomes would be better for the average American" if the dollar's value were tied to gold.

Norris makes a point that among the 37 were advisers to both Democratic and Republican presidents. As if this insured some sort of impartiality. Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, you will be shocked — shocked! — to know that all 37 of the esteemed economists polled think a gold standard is a terrible idea.

The first statement the 37 economists responded to was

If the US replaced its discretionary monetary policy regime with a gold standard, defining a "dollar" as a specific number of ounces of gold, the price-stability and employment outcomes would be better for the average American.

Doug French

Doug French is is president of the Mises Institute and author of Early Speculative Bubbles & Increases in the Money Supply and Walk Away: The Rise and Fall of the Home-Ownership Myth

Be the first to read Bill Barker’s column. Sign up today and receive delivered each morning to your inbox.