Wednesday, March 05, 2008
This blast from the past, courtesy of Thoughts on Freedom, makes you appreciate what a great 37-year run it has been.
By the early 1970s, as the Vietnam War accelerated inflation, the United States as a whole began running a trade deficit (for the first time in the twentieth century). The crucial turning point was 1970, which saw U.S. gold coverage deteriorate from 55% to 22%. This, in the view of neoclassical economists, represented the point where holders of the dollar had lost faith in the ability of the U.S. to cut budget and trade deficits.That sounds funny - the United States began running a trade deficit for the first time in the twentieth century.
In 1971 more and more dollars were being printed in Washington, then being pumped overseas, to pay for government expenditure on the military and social programs. In the first six months of 1971, assets for $22 billion fled the U.S. In response, on August 15, 1971, Nixon unilaterally imposed 90-day wage and price controls, a 10% import surcharge, and most importantly "closed the gold window," making the dollar inconvertible to gold directly, except on the open market. Unusually, this decision was made without consulting members of the international monetary system or even his own State Department, and was soon dubbed the "Nixon Shock".