Gold was money in the distant past and it will probably be money in the distant future, but there is no developed economy in which gold is money today. In this post I’ll explain why.
People who argue that gold is money often confuse what should be with what is. They explain why gold-money would be vastly superior to any of today’s fiat currencies and their explanations are probably 100% correct, but they are sidestepping the issue. There is no doubt in my mind that gold is far better suited to being money than something that can be created at whim by commercial banks and central banks, but the fact is that gold is presently not money.
Part of confusing what should be with what is sometimes involves the claim that governments can’t determine what is and isn’t money. This is akin to someone claiming it can’t rain while standing in the middle of a rainstorm.
The hard reality is that governments routinely do many things that they shouldn’t be able to do. Governments shouldn’t be able to force people into slavery, but they sometimes do it. They call it conscription or the draft. Governments shouldn’t be able to steal, but they do it on a grand scale every day and call it taxation. Governments shouldn’t be able to monitor almost all financial transactions and most internet communications, but they do. They call it national security or keeping us safe from terrorists and drug traffickers. Governments, either directly or via their agents, shouldn’t be able to siphon away the purchasing-power of savings and wages, but they do it under the guise of economic stimulus. Governments shouldn’t be able to put obstacles in the way of peaceful, voluntary transactions, in the process greatly increasing the cost of doing business and thus reducing living standards, by they do it every day and call it regulation. One particular government (that of the US) shouldn’t be almost continuously intervening militarily in multiple countries around the world, but it is. They call it peace through strength or keeping the world safe for democracy.
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