The Gold Standard or Bust

Friday, June 13, 2014

Steve Forbes, chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and co-author (with Elizabeth Ames) of Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy -- and What We Can Do About It, makes the case for going back to the gold standard to stabilize the global economy.


Steve Forbes

Comments [56]

Bob from CA

And who on that panel predicted the crash of 2008?

Jun. 15 2014 04:07 AM

"Dollars have no value. Gold has intrinsic value."

According to which god? Food and water and clean air have value. Everything else is just a doodad.

Bring this guy back when he figures out how to keep Forbes afloat without selling those fancy eggs. I'm glad I got to see them before the Russians took them back. Seriously though, take his brilliant insight and apply it to "magazines" and "books" and he'll be worth a listen.

Jun. 13 2014 03:50 PM

"every ounce that has ever been mined is still with us today."

-- My great great grandmother once dropped a gold eating into the ocean. Also my cat had a gold tooth and when it died we buried it.

How did Steve Forbes get those two items -- that rascal!

Jun. 13 2014 03:34 PM

Malcom without the jokezzzzz

Jun. 13 2014 03:26 PM

we've so many other pressing problems,that going back to a gold standard that perhaps we should never have gotten off, is just way too gimmicky at this point. the structures of gross, thoroughly engineered income disparity;are never ever addressed by this clown.

Jun. 13 2014 12:30 PM

@Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

Tying the means of exchange in an economy to a commodity - any commodity - will occasionally stabilize it but will more frequently strangulate it.

@MN from Manhattan


Not quite right. US GDP went from $1.039T in 1970 to $16T in 2014. It's not so much as the dollar losing as incomes not keeping up. Average incomes have NOT participated in the last $5T of growth in the overall economy. All of that gain went to corporation and 1%ers.

Jun. 13 2014 12:08 PM

The second comment asks a good question: Why no call ins? Why no actual economist on next? (I'm sure Mr. Forbes would not have agreed to a discussion with one.)

I know, wnyc does not read these comments and never answers anything.

Jun. 13 2014 11:31 AM

…a poor argument for a ridiculous concept.

Another Steve Forbes "slam dunk".

Jun. 13 2014 11:05 AM
mike from long island

this show is going down the toilet. did Brian have a pre-show deal with forbes to not take any callers questions?? if calls were allowed, forbes would have left the studio with multiple new A-holes. what a joke. forbes is a moron. he measures the pre and post 1971 economy solely by the gold simple terms, the US economy saw spectacular growth after WW2 because it was the only large economy that wasnt destroyed by WW2, we were the only game in town. post gold standard, we saw the creation of OPEC and rising oil prices that pretty much destroyed the economic models we operated on for so many years. forbes ought to write a book about the relationship of childhood sucking on a silver spoon and low intelligence. i used to listen to brian's show to be educated and informed , now i listen to see what kind of car wreck it will be daily. i dont want to look, but i cant look away.

Jun. 13 2014 11:04 AM
Joe Bilby from Wall Township, NJ

Just heard Forbes speak -- he is, well, to be kind, peddling nonsense. He blames going off the gold standard for a slowdown in US economic expansion in the 1970s, when it was actually the de-industrialization of America, caused in part by his buddies, that has been at the root of the problem.

Even more absurd is his endorsement of the "great job" Governor Christie has done in NJ. That great job would include, I guess, the fact that our credit rating has been lowered a half dozen times since he took office, he has continually fudged figures on the budget and engaged in blatantly corrupt crony politics. We have a higher unemployment rate than NY or PA and we are tied for 48th place in job creation with Mississippi. Great job Chris!

Jun. 13 2014 11:00 AM

" But WHAT does Steve Forbes have to say of any value and why is he on my radio?"
Why does Sarah Palin still get air time?

Jun. 13 2014 11:00 AM
AM from Jamaica from Queens NY

The total Gross Planetary Product is over 60 Trillion dollars a year, and that is with many factories operating at less than 75% capacity. The current global economic system has plenty of constraints on production & distribution, so we certainly don't need a cute shiny metal with very limited utility as yet another foot on the brakes. Money is merely a rationing system left over from pre-industrial times when scarcity was the norm - now, consumer credit cards are a form of currency that allows consumers to buy some of the tsunami of global production at closer to the rate at which it is now produced and then actually pay for it later. As undeveloped countries join in the global industrial economy, their citizens will experience increasing prosperity, reduce their family sizes, and get fat watching their flat screen tv's over the weekend. A return to the gold standard? Oh please... yeah, and let's go back to burning coal while we're at it.

Jun. 13 2014 10:53 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Schmulik from Queens

No, dimwit, he described "fractional reserve banking" which is merely the nominal "theory" of banking they teach at college. I was pointing out that that is not actually the case because bank balance sheets are built on Fed lending not deposits, idiot.

Jun. 13 2014 10:53 AM
Joe from nearby

"The Republicans will be taking over the Senate."

......People, this is why everyone needs to vote!!!

Jun. 13 2014 10:51 AM
Ben from Westchester

I don't get it. I'm a businessman, not a socialist. But WHAT does Steve Forbes have to say of any value and why is he on my radio?

He is a millionaire not from anything he has done, but because he inherited an eponymous magazine from his dad. And a fortune. Good for him! I hope he invests his money well.

But before we view him as a guide on anything related to the economy (except for how to inherit millions if your dad is Malcolm Forbes, on which I'm certain he is an expert) who is he and what does he have to offer?

Can you ask him a single thing Forbes Magazine has done in the new Internet economy of any value or innovation? Is his magazine making any money? Or is it just a sinkhole that gives him a platform to write books and run for President all the time?

The guy seems to have nothing to offer. Can we start by asking him who he is and why we should listen to him?

Jun. 13 2014 10:49 AM

Forbes loves gold, he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth.

What a dilettante hack!

Jun. 13 2014 10:48 AM
Jeff from New York

Wow, Forbes truly lives in a fantasy world--and why not when you can make up statistics at will? The US is *more* economically mobile than it was 50 years ago? *Most* of the individuals in the bottom quintile move up a quintile or two during their lifetime? Is this guy a stand up comic or just a great storyteller?

Jun. 13 2014 10:48 AM
Brian from Manhattan

Brian L, please stop feeding the trolls. I tune in to wnyc for intelligent conversations, not drivel. Next, you'll interview a Climate Change Denier. I am seriously considering ending my membership.

Jun. 13 2014 10:48 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

The gold standard failed because the country failed to grow under the gold standard hence the "Nixon Shocks"... Taking the country off the gold standard allowed the currency to be manipulated and create phony growth beginning with the "Financialization" of the economy in the 1980's. The gold standard is doomed as is our current system. If interest rates were to rise to even 5% on the 10 year (normalizaion) the country couldn't even service the debt. The reason Brian and all the pro .gov people are terrified of the gold bugs is because they know deflation would destroy the government (the biggest debtor) and strengthen the currency. The IMF has already been talking about "The Chicago Plan", a massive debt/equity swap, and that is the doomsday plan for when this system finally collapses, not the Gold Standard.

Jun. 13 2014 10:48 AM
Anthony from park slope

Forbes: The dollar has no intrinsic value
Me: Gold has no intrinsic value

Whats the difference?

Jun. 13 2014 10:47 AM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

Here's why we went off the gold standard

New Gold Rush
59 bars Leaving Every Hour
New Gold Rush: Out of U.S.

That was the headline in a Life Magazine article December 12, 1960. Those 59 bars weighed 28 pounds each* and were worth $823,000 ($6.5 million 2013 dollars.)

Although President Roosevelt took the U.S. off the gold standard in 1933*, gold was still used for international settlements. The Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 set up fixed exchange rates to the dollar for other currencies and the dollar was pegged to gold at $35 an ounce. So if we imported more than we exported, gold went out as foreigners redeemed dollars for gold. (Actually, it was just moved from one vault to another in the basement of the New York Fed.

The U.S. bestrode the world as an economic colossus after World War II, with half the world’s gold reserves and the ruined countries of Europe clamoring for our cars, steel, and machines to rebuild.

The problem in 1960 wasn’t the trade deficit: we had a $5 billion surplus. It was that our troops stationed around the world, foreign aid, and private investment in overseas business resulted in a $3.2 billion balance of payments deficit ($25.3 billion in 2013 dollars).

Gold continued to flow out of the U.S. until by 1971 there was only half the gold there was in 1960 and foreign banks held a lot more dollars than we had gold. President Nixon on august 15, 1971 issued an executive order ending the convertibility of the dollar to gold, thus ending the Bretton Woods system and ushering the era of floating currencies. This is called the Nixon Shock.

Jun. 13 2014 10:47 AM
James L

Forbes is so crazy! Why on earth would you have him on? Aren't there better people to interview? Gold Standard-really? Why don't we talk about the flat earth or academics making up climate change so they can get grants? This is pure idiocy!!!!

Jun. 13 2014 10:47 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I do agree that the people in the top 1% change from time to time. Zuckerberg was not born into the top 1%. Nor was Elon Musk. Howard Schultz, who built up Starbucks from next to nothing was raised here in the Housing Projects in Canarsie. So while the top 1% may have 20% of the income in this country, that top 1% does change over time with changes in technology and whatever.

Jun. 13 2014 10:47 AM
Schmulik from Queens

@ "Mr Bad" "Do you seriously think deposits back the vast amount of lending that banks do?" THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT JOE MIRSKY is point OUT

Cheez can you read?

Jun. 13 2014 10:46 AM
dsimon from Manhattan

Are there any transactions in the modern economy that were called off because we weren't on the gold standard? What business didn't expand, what merger didn't happen, what deal wasn't made because we weren't on the gold standard? Without some examples of people not making deals out of a fear of an unstable currency, Forbes's claim that the absence of a gold standard is preventing growth is somewhat lacking.

Anyway, we're not going back on the gold standard, so people like Forbes can be safely ignored and the rest of us can go back to doing more productive things.

Jun. 13 2014 10:46 AM


Jun. 13 2014 10:46 AM

Steve Forbes is still considered of diminished

Jun. 13 2014 10:45 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

mirsky - banks are capitally constrained not reserve constrained.... the US is monetarily sovereign, we are the issuer of the dollar. the only constraint on federal govt spending is inflation (and the continued belief in the full faith and credit of the US). for the US to go back to the gold standard, a completely foolish idea, would be tantamount to Italy joining the EU, and relinquishing their monetary sovereignty. forbes is an idiot....

Jun. 13 2014 10:44 AM
MN from man

One thing he said that is true we turn scarcity into abundance in other words there is no scarcity ... the price of EVERYTHING is LABOR and it's unseen stepchild applied knowledge

Jun. 13 2014 10:44 AM

Mr. Forbes doesn't understand a thing about the gold standard. Why don't you have someone who does understand as a guest at the same time. A simple question: what makes Forbes think that the "value" of the gold itself won't go up and down causing the value of the money tied to it from bouncing up and down as well? Take a walk down history and look at the five or six boom and bust cycles and the panics in the 19th century -- all while on a gold standard. Forbes is talking bunkum. Read Piketty if you want to know where this magnate is coming from.

Jun. 13 2014 10:44 AM
John from NYC

You should invite the authors John DeGraaf & David Batker who wrote the book "What's The Economy For Anyway?" for a discussion.

Jun. 13 2014 10:43 AM

Please ask this man who economy can work in healthcare when anyone would pay any price not to die or have a loved one die. Doesn't healthcare have to be run by the government because there is no hand of supply & demand when it comes to death?

Jun. 13 2014 10:43 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

You wrote:

"Banks only have to keep 10% of deposits on hand and can loan out the rest. If you deposit $100, $900 in new money is created — out of thin air."

If you think that's how banking works now you need to go study some more youtube videos. When banks lend in the real world it has nothing to do with their reserves it is simply a balance sheet notation. Do you seriously think deposits back the vast amount of lending that banks do? Do you know anything or did you write a book based on your Liberal Arts degree because that's what I'm thinking...

Jun. 13 2014 10:43 AM

Steve Forbes has always been an intellectual blight on america. Flat Tax would by design screw over everyone except his super rich friends. The return to the gold standard would be no different. By the way, the gold standard did end with Nixon but was effectively over with the great depression. Moving away from the gold standard is how we paid to recover from the depression and then fight world war 2. The idea that inflation since 1970 has been because we left gold standard is lunacy.

Jun. 13 2014 10:42 AM
Sofia M from Manhattan

I am amazed that people that listen to this program seem to defend a practice where government can print money at will. Given our ever growing cycles of boom and bust (the Fed was created to stop this don't forget) you would think a smart person would think twice. You do understand that impacts the dollar you have in your pocket, right? You understand holding rates down and printing money is a way of taxing you indirectly but at an even higher rate than simply raising the tax rate

Jun. 13 2014 10:42 AM
Joe from nearby

"Free market"???

Puh-lease. There's no such thing. There's only rigged markets, rigged for the 1%. Who are you kidding.

Jun. 13 2014 10:42 AM

@Joe M Yes Ron Paul was on that commission but he and a few others had a minority report that said the complete opposite which wasn't entered into the record. Socialists have ruined the country. Brian is scary.

Jun. 13 2014 10:40 AM
Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

Steve -

We want our country to be the "gold standard." We want the US$ to be the benchmark because some of us believe that there is "intrinsic" value in our country. Some of us believe that the United States does, in fact, have intrinsic value. I believe that the US is a better country than all other countries and is "worth" more. The problem is the leadership, the political market, not the commodity market. We need to fix our leadership - the rest will fall into place.

Jun. 13 2014 10:40 AM
Jon Pope from Ridge, NY

SO our economy has tanked since 1971 only because we went off the gold standard? Really Is it coincident that this is about the same time the first wave of cheap Asian labor from Japan that took away American jobs?

Also gold is commodity sold on the open market that fluctuates wildly over short periods of time. Gold does not have a fixed value....Its also mined in many, many troubled parts of the world like oil.

Also, countries would have to move gold all over the world every time the value changes. How on earth are you going to do that?

This is such a used car salesman pitch....

Jun. 13 2014 10:40 AM
Jessie Henshaw from Way Uptown

This argument is like so many others, 90% political. There were indeed a great many changes in the direction of the economy in ~1970, a great many. But no one talks about the ones that seem most pivotal. I think it's clear the "gold standard" change was "the tail", not "the dog".

The main thing that changed was the combined shift to global thinking and the use of business computers to enforce the "bottom line", both basically due to the rapid development of computers.... driven by the rapidly accelerating expansion and so the enormous complexity of decision making required for businesses to operate...

I'm just an insightful physicist... who'd ever listen to one of them? ??

Jun. 13 2014 10:40 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Nonsense, that gold has a "fixed value." Granted there is a finite amount of gold on this planet, but maybe not all has been found and mined? There is also a finite amount of water, so why not have a water standard and have countries accumulate water and fix their currencies to the amount of water they have.
Admittedly gold is a rare commodity that probably more or less will hold some value over time, and not lose all of its value, but it has no innate holy property that makes it a "standard."

Jun. 13 2014 10:39 AM

The only reason we have not had massive inflation in the past 20 years is A- they have changed the way inflation is determined (the basket is ever shrinking) and B- we have globalization which provided substandard wages for production in many parts of the world keeping a lid on wages which are the most expensive part of production.

Jun. 13 2014 10:38 AM
Daniel from Manhattan

The spectacular growth of the economy from the '40s to the '70s had nothing to do with the gold standard, it was due to the fact that Europe and Japan were devastated and China/Asia were not yet industrialized while the US economy had benefitted from massive investments in WWII. The gold standard will not bring back the good old days.

Jun. 13 2014 10:38 AM

Ask the guest for success stories of countries that have restored the gold standard in the last 75 years and prospered from it.

Jun. 13 2014 10:38 AM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

Here's some more

A 1981 Gold Commission appointed by President Reagan at the instigation of gold bugs Rep. Ron Paul (yes, that Ron Paul) and Senator Jesse Helms concluded in a 227 page report exhaustively detailing every aspect of gold and the history of the gold standard that “restoring a gold standard does not appear to be a fruitful method for dealing with the continuing problem of inflation.”

Jun. 13 2014 10:36 AM
MN from Manhattan

My rent want from $400 to $4,000 ( if you lived in Detroit would this be TRUE?)
A car went from $3,000 to $30,000 ( Are you telling me that 2014 car technology is the same as a 1970 car)
Gas went from 40 cents a gallon to $4 ( We live in a global oil market and pay global prices due to demand from all over the world increasing
A steak dinner (at Maxe’s Kansas City) was $4, now $40 to $80) ( The WORLD is eating more Beef and will continue to and you are bidding on that steak dinner with the rest of the world)

How much would a 60 inch flat screen tv had cost you in 1970 ( assuming you were at Bell Labs and financed a prototype of the technology, how much did it cost 10 years ago)

Add your Iphone and every other electronic , microprocessor driven device as well how much value have you gained compared to 1970 .. Your comparisons suck because they are cherry picked and exclude where there has been DEFLATION . This is about markets ... GET IT?

Jun. 13 2014 10:35 AM
john from office

Urgh, this guy is a loony tune. Gold is the same as paper. The value of gold is what you say it is, the value of the dollar is what you say it is.

Maybe we should use large stones, what is the difference?

Jun. 13 2014 10:34 AM
Caesar Romaine from Manhattan

Steve Forbes... now there's a credible voice. He got demoted in the company with his name on the door when its value plummeted under his leadership. I think if he hadn't inherited his wealth and his job the only thing golden he would know anything about would be arches. He's just trying to sell books.

Jun. 13 2014 10:34 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

There is no need for a gold standard. You can buy and own all the gold you want so what do you need a standard for? If you believe that gold holds value better than the stock market, or housing or whatever other investment, go buy gold and sleep with it.

Jun. 13 2014 10:34 AM

You should get Peter Schiff on.

Jun. 13 2014 10:32 AM
MN from Manhattan

More so facebook arises literally out of nowhere because suddenly, we all want to start sharing photos and msc fluff on THEIR servers instead of some one else's . And then we all decide THAT is worth 70 BILLION dollars. Where would the GOLD come from in 3 or 4 years to justify THAT? Don't get me started on the 19 BILLION valuation of the chat app What's App? ( like we can VERIFY it's 400 million "users"? Forbes is an idiot

Jun. 13 2014 10:29 AM
John from NYC

The Fed was supposed to:

a) Assure a stable currency (for example, expand the currency to match the expansion of the economy)

b) Provide liquidity in a time of crisis.

But then the mandate was changed to “assure full employment.”

In the past you got full employment with well planned giant industries, which necessitated government/industry coordination.

Today you get full employment by an expanding economy that is responsive to the times, including new technologies, a well-prepared workforce, and entrepreneurial creativity.


We are told, “Oh, inflation is not a problem.”


Since 1970
My rent want from $400 to $4,000
A car went from $3,000 to $30,000
Gas went from 40 cents a gallon to $4
A steak dinner (at Maxe’s Kansas City) was $4, now $40 to $80



There are lots of problems with the gold standard, but it is the only protection against STEROIDS ADDICTION.

Jun. 13 2014 10:27 AM
MN from Manhattan

Joe Mirsky is 100% correct and it shows the conclusions that are apparent when one understands the banking /monetary system.

Banks have numerous ways to create money out of thin air. The Fed just responds to the economic pressure to actually print the money that they Banks overwhelmingly create. One way they make money is those pesky CC protection scams and other charges that pop up on your CC bill for months without your noticing it. that money is funneled into the nightly LIBOR markets until you complain, at which point the money is "credited back to your account" after it was ginned up and profit made on it . Hundreds of Billions of $$ are created this way . And conservatives keep pointing fingers at the Fed Gov. ( as their agenda is to starve power from any entity that might level the playing field)

Forbes is trying to seal the deal for his rich friends because he thinks he has the gold and inflation is the enemy of privileged wealth that is not involved in physical economic growth and rather, lives off investments. As long as Labour has the ability to demand wage rises to adjust for inflation we are all ok. But for king midas sitting on his gold, inflation makes him weaker over time...

Jun. 13 2014 10:23 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I am not a big fan of Mr. Forbes, but I firmly believe in restoring the gold standard - the operative word being "standard." Without some kind of standard, money is just float and its value can fluctuate on a whim because it is essentially meaningless. Having a gold standard means anchoring the value of currency and actually increasing its value by doing so.

I also don't believe there is any valid argument against doing so. Any move by the federal reserve or anyone else against the gold standard represents a license to print currency whose value decreases with every bill put into circulation. There would be no need at all to print more currency (with the exception of replacement currency) because the value of each circulating bill would be anchored to something of significant value and would remain high enough to sustain the economy of the US and, by extension, any country with which we do business.

Jun. 13 2014 10:08 AM
DC from Brooklyn, NY

Closing the income inequality gap will stabilize the economy. Who in their right mind actually believes trickle down is the be all and end all?

Jun. 13 2014 10:06 AM
Joe Mirsky from Pompton Lakes NJ

From my book Ornamentally Incorrect, third edition, Luxe et Veritas

In Gold We Trust

Money backed by gold! Hard money! How macho! I’ll give you two reasons why it would be a problem.

1. There ain’t enough of it. The money supply is $10.536 trillion according to the Fed in April, 2013 and 261,499,283.502 troy ounces of gold are stashed in the basement of the New York Fed, Fort Knox, West Point, and various mints. That works out to about $340 billion at $1300 gold, or about 3.2% of the money supply. Under the gold standard, 40% of the money supply had to backed by gold. All the gold ever mined would only add up to 7.62 trillion.

2. Where do you think money comes from? The Fed Fairy, right? Wrong! Banks create money. I’m sure you’re shocked!, shocked! to learn this. We have a fractional reserve banking system. Banks only have to keep 10% of deposits on hand and can loan out the rest. If you deposit $100, $900 in new money is created — out of thin air. That’s how the economy grows. Money is created to loan to new business ventures. It works because not everyone wants to pull out his money at the same time — a run on the bank — and because the FDIC insures bank deposits. It’s why banks run out of money in a run on the bank.

Gold can’t grow to back up an expanding money supply and a gold standard is incompatible with how a modern economy works.

You can’t set up a gold standard in just one country. If you did, all the gold would flow out to pay for imports as the dollars we used to pay for them were redeemed for gold, and none would come in as payment for exports. With our $540 billion trade deficit (2012), all our gold would be gone in less than a year.

“Gold will not replace fiat currencies; the Gold Standard will not return. Nostalgia for a supposed golden age of the Gold Standard, coupled with concerns about governments' ability to manipulate fiat currencies, occasionally gives rise to calls for, or predictions of, a return to gold as the underlying basis for the international monetary system. This is not possible. Gold’s relative scarcity means that it could only ever replace a fiat currency on a fractional basis. Even that is unlikely, as a legacy of history.”

This is from a January, 2013 report from the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum commissioned by the World Gold Council. If a World Gold Council study tells you it ain’t gonna happen, it ain’t gonna happen.

In January 2012, A University of Chicago poll of 40 distinguished economics scholars “geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars” asked if “the price-stability and employment outcomes would be better for the average American” if the dollar were tied to gold. All of them disagreed, some with amazement that the question would be asked at all.

To state the obvious, if the gold standard had worked, we would still be on it.

Copyright © 2014 Joseph Mirsky

Jun. 13 2014 08:41 AM

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