Economists: Time to Return to the Gold Standard

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WASHINGTON -- The price of gold has set another record high Monday, with the price of the yellow metal rising to more than $1,880 an ounce.

The dollar, by some estimates, has lost about 80 percent of its purchasing power compared to gold since 1970.
   
Now some economists and political leaders believe the time has come to make the dollar "as good as gold" again by returning to the gold standard.

Return to the Gold Standard?
   
Ask any investor and they'll probably tell you "cash is king" -- especially during volatile times like these. But more and more people are looking to gold as both a safe haven and an investment.

Jeff Bell is the director of American Principles, the Washington-based group that's trying to persuade policymakers to return to the gold standard - that is, tying the value of the dollar to the value of gold.

"The flight to gold, as many people understand, is a vote of no confidence in paper money, particularly in the dollar," Bell explained.
   
But it was 40 years ago this August, in the middle of the Vietnam War and fighting inflation, that President Richard Nixon cut the dollar's link to gold.

"It may have helped Nixon in the short run by enabling the economy to be very liquid, but in the long run it led to enormously greater problems than Nixon started off with," Bell said.
    
Bell believes Americans will never rein in Washington's out-of-control spending, the Federal Reserve's record-setting dollar printing, or escape repeated financial bubbles without a monetary foundation based on gold.

Critics: Gold Standard 'Wrongheaded'

But some economists disagree.

"I think it's exactly wrong-headed," stated Tara Sinclair, a professor of economics and international affairs at George Washington University.

"I think the whole idea of the economic situation we're in right now suggests even more than normal we need to have monetary policy in the hands of capable policymakers rather than just simply based on the supply of gold," she said.
    
Sinclair says it's times like these that prove it's best for the government to control the money supply so it can put more money into the economy to strengthen it during difficult times.

"The most similar situation that we were in like today was the Great Depression," she said. "And that's exactly when we saw that countries who went off the gold standard did better."
    
But Bell argues as the global reserve currency, since the rest of the world relies on dollars for their own purchases, Washington hasn't been able to resist the temptation of running up deficits and printing more and more money with less purchasing power.
    
His group is working with grassroots targeting influential primary states to build their case.

"Everybody at the grassroots knew about this," Bell said. "And that's why we're focused on our group, Gold Standard 2012 project, is focused on going to the early states - like Iowa and South Carolina - convincing the grassroots that this needs to happen."
    
However, given the current economic situation that's unlikely to happen any time soon.

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