The gold standard was a central element of limiting government’s ability to wreak havoc on society.

A Brief History of the Gold Standard, with a Focus on the United States - MISES WIRE It is impossible to grasp the meaning of the idea of sound money if one does not realize that it was devised as an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments. Ideologically it belongs in the same class with political constitutions and bills of rights. The demand for constitutional guarantees and for bills of rights was a reaction against arbitrary rule and the nonobservance of old customs by kings. The postulate of sound money was first brought up as a response to the princely practice of debasing the coinage. It was later carefully elaborated and perfected in the age which—through the experience of the American continental currency, the paper money of the French Revolution and the British restriction period—had learned what a government can do to a nation’s currency system. To this day, arguments over the gold standard are not merely technical disagreements concerning economic analysis. Rather, the gold standard often serves as a proxy for “sound money,” which was a central element in the classical liberal tradition of limiting government’s ability to wreak havoc on society. To fully understand our current global monetary system, in which all of the major powers issue unbacked fiat money, it is helpful to learn how today’s system emerged from its earlier form. Before fiat money, all major currencies were tied (often with interruptions due to war or financial crises) to one or both of the precious metals, gold and silver. This international system of commodity-based money reached its zenith under the so-called classical gold standard, which characterized the global economy from the 1870s through the start of World War I in 1914. Under a genuine gold standard, a nation’s monetary unit is defined as a specific weight of gold. There is “free” coinage of gold, meaning that anyone can present gold bullion to the government to be minted into gold coins of the appropriate denomination in unlimited quantities (perhaps with a small charge for the service). Going the other way, to the extent that there are paper notes or token coins issued by the government as official money, these can be presented by anyone for immediate redemption in full-bodied gold coins. Finally, under a genuine gold standard, there are no restrictions on the flow of gold into and out of the country, so that foreigners too can avail themselves of the options described above. The gold standard was a central element of limiting government’s ability to wreak havoc on society. Read full article: 08/14/2020 - Robert P. Murphy https://mises.org/wire/brief-history-gold-standard-focus-united-states #mises #soundmoney #GoldStandard