Friday, November 14, 2008
This op-ed piece by Judy Shelton in today's Wall Street Journal should be required reading for all attendees at this weekend's G20 meeting.
At the bottom of the world financial crisis is international monetary disorder. Ever since the post-World War II Bretton Woods system -- anchored by a gold-convertible dollar -- ended in August 1971, the cause of free trade has been compromised by sovereign monetary-policy indulgence.Good question.
Today, a soupy mix of currencies sloshes investment capital around the world, channeling it into stagnant pools while productive endeavor is left high and dry. Entrepreneurs in countries with overvalued currencies are unable to attract the foreign investment that should logically flow in their direction, while scam artists in countries with undervalued currencies lure global financial resources into brackish puddles.
To speak of "overvalued" or "undervalued" currencies is to raise the question: Why can't we just have money that works -- a meaningful unit of account to provide accurate price signals to producers and consumers across the globe?
This is well worth reading in its entirety with lots of history about the Bretton Woods system and Nixon closing the gold window, along with thoughts on possibly returning to some sort of a new monetary system, perhaps based on gold.