Did The Great Financial Crisis Start With The End Of The Gold Standard?

September 4, 2012   |  


It’s perhaps no co-incidence that the trend towards persistent deficits started around the final collapse of the last link to a quasi-Gold standard back in August 1971. As Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid notes, in a world of the Gold Standard or equivalent, those countries loosening policy too much would have seen a rush to convert their currencies into Gold thus destabilising their economic policy framework. Multi-year (let alone multi-decade) deficits and the GFC could not have occurred under a gold standard.

So with the shackles off and with nothing backing paper money, the post 1971 period has seen a uniquely long period of fiat currencies globally with a beggar-thy-neighbour rolling period of credit creation. Never before in observable history have so many countries been off a precious metal type currency system for so long. This move in 1971 helped create the conditions (alongside ever looser financial regulation) for almost unlimited credit and debt creation potential that would have been inconceivable through the annuls of economic history. The developed world in particular went on a 36 year credit/debt binge which probably lasted longer and was more aggressive than it would have been had it not been for China’s globalisation moment 30 years ago. From this point they almost single handedly started a three decade period of suppressing global inflation thus allowing the credit/debt binge to become ever bigger without the inflationary check that would have likely otherwise occurred.

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