In: Other Topics

Submitted By dennisgeorge
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The gold standard was a commitment by participating countries to fix the prices of their domestic currencies in terms of a specified amount of gold. National money and other forms of money (bank deposits and notes) were freely converted into gold at the fixed price. England adopted a de facto gold standard in 1717 after the master of the mint, Sir Isaac Newton, overvalued the guinea in terms of silver, and formally adopted the gold standard in 1819. The United States, though formally on a bimetallic (gold and silver) standard, switched to gold de facto in 1834 and de jure in 1900 when Congress passed the Gold Standard Act. In 1834, the United States fixed the price of gold at $20.67 per ounce, where it remained until 1933. Other major countries joined the gold standard in the 1870s. The period from 1880 to 1914 is known as the classical gold standard. During that time, the majority of countries adhered (in varying degrees) to gold. It was also a period of unprecedented economic growth with relatively free trade in goods, labor, and capital.
The gold standard broke down during World War I, as major belligerents resorted to inflationary finance, and was briefly reinstated from 1925 to 1931 as the Gold Exchange Standard. Under this standard, countries could hold gold or dollars or pounds as reserves, except for the United States and the United Kingdom, which held reserves only in gold. This version broke down in 1931 following Britain’s departure from gold in the face of massive gold and capital outflows. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nationalized gold owned by private citizens and abrogated contracts in which payment was specified in gold. Between 1946 and 1971, countries operated under the Bretton Woods system. Under this further modification of the gold standard, most countries settled their international balances in U.S. dollars, but the…...

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