Debt, the gold standard, and the Fed.

Two charts instead of a story this week:

The first shows the U.S. Government debt since 1967. As you can see it has been going much higher and the rate of increase is also accelerating. The U.S. dollar was redeemable into gold by foreign governments up until 1971. When the U.S. overspent and created dollars to balance their deficits, foreign holders of those dollars could redeem them for physical gold bullion. This created a natural constraint on the amount of spending the government could undertake. If they spent too much more then they would draw down on their gold reserves and eventually have none left.

Since the gold backing of the U.S. dollar has been removed in 1971 the Federal government can spend as much money as it pleases on all kinds of boondoggles domestically or overseas and simply borrow the money to pay for them. If the demand is not sufficient to buy all the bonds the government issues to borrow this money, the Federal Reserve will simply create the dollars out of thin air to buy the bonds. This dilutes the purchasing power of all dollars in existence. It is the hidden tax of inflation and would not be possible under a sound money system.

The above chart shows the purchasing power of the dollar since the Federal Reserve was created in 1913. The dollar of total is worth about 3 cents compared to a dollar before the Federal Reserve existed.

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