Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reasons why the gold standard is substandard

by Megan McArdle:
In short, you don't get anything out of a gold standard that you didn't bring with you. If your government is a credible steward of the money supply, you don't need it; and if it isn't, it won't be able to stay on it long anyway. (See Argentina's dollar peg). Meanwhile, the limitations on the government's ability to respond to fiscal crises, the necessity of defending against speculative attacks in times of crises, and the possibility of independent changes in the relative price of gold, make your economy more unstable. It's a terrible idea, which is why there are so few economists willing to raise their voices in support of it.
She goes onto the 7 Fisks of Ron Paul's speech; here are the first two:

1. The Federal Reserve destabilizes the economy with its "boom and bust" monetary policy. This is hard to square with the fact that the longer the Federal Reserve has been in existance, the more stable the economy has been. Dr. Paul's words strongly imply that he believes that there was no business cycle in the 19th century, which is untrue; as best we can tell, recessions were much longer and deeper before America had a central bank.

2. Americans don't save because they're afraid inflation will erode their savings. This is daft. Moderate inflationary expectations are built into the interest rates that banks offer. After thirty years of stable monetary policy, a good portion of the population doesn't even remember high inflation, and the ones that do are mostly retired and spending down their savings. Americans don't save because . . . well, have you tried the Wii? It's awesome.

Some of my previous posts on the subject.

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