Selgin reviews Bernanke on the Gold Standard

George Selgin reviews Bernanke’s course at GWU. He is not happy:

Bernanke’s discussion of the gold standard is perhaps the low point of a generally poor performance, consisting of little more than the usual catalog of anti-gold clichés: like most critics of the gold standard, Bernanke is evidently so convinced of its rottenness that it has never occurred to him to check whether the standard arguments against it have any merit. Thus he says, referring to an old Friedman essay, that the gold standard wastes resources. He neglects to tell his listeners (1) that for his calculations Friedman assumed 100% gold reserves, instead of the “paper thin” reserves that, according to Bernanke himself, were actually relied upon during the gold standard era; (2) that Friedman subsequently wrote an article on “The Resource Costs of Irredeemable Paper Money” in which he questioned his own, previous assumption that paper money was cheaper than gold; and (3) that the flow of resources to gold mining and processing is mainly a function of gold’s relative price, and that that relative price has been higher since 1971 than it was during the classical gold standard era, thanks mainly to the heightened demand for gold as a hedge against fiat-money-based inflation. Indeed, the real price of gold is higher today than it has ever been except for a brief interval during the 1980s. So, Ben: while you chuckle about how silly it would be to embrace a monetary standard that tends to enrich foreign gold miners, perhaps you should consider how no monetary standard has done so more than the one you yourself have been managing!

Read the whole thing for more.


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