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Alan Greenspan: Gold Is “Universally Acceptable” and Why China Is Buying

October 2nd, 2014

alan greenspanGoldCore: Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Fed, had an article entitled “Golden Rule – Why Beijing Is Buying” published in Foreign Policy, the journal of the influential Council on Foreign Relations in which he extols the virtues of gold as “universally acceptable.”

Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of the United States from 1987 to 2006, and a key architect in the global financial crisis, points out that if the world’s largest gold consumer, China, used a portion of its massive $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves to buy enough gold bullion it could displace the U.S. as the world’s largest holder of gold bullion. The U.S. holdings are believed to be just over 8,500 tonnes with an estimated value of just $328 billion as of spring 2014.

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Greenspan points out how gold is the ultimate form of money in the world and is “universally acceptable”.

He concedes that “a return to the gold standard in any form is not on anybody’s horizon” right now but points out that if sovereign governments have financial crises, their fiat currencies may not be accepted as payment.

He highlights that bullion holds special properties that no currency can claim, except maybe silver. The fiat currencies and moving exchange rates that make up our monetary system of today are backed by the tax raising abilities of government’s of sovereign nations. However, gold bullion for over 2000 years has been an “unquestioned acceptance as payment”, writes Greenspan.

“No questions are raised when gold or direct claims to gold are offered in payment of an obligation; it was the only form of payment, for example, that exporters to Germany would accept as World War II was drawing to a close.”

“Today, the acceptance of fiat money — currency not backed by an asset of intrinsic value — rests on the credit guarantee of sovereign nations endowed with effective taxing power, a guarantee that in crisis conditions has not always matched the universal acceptability of gold.”

“If the dollar or any other fiat currency were universally acceptable at all times, central banks would see no need to hold any gold. The fact that they do indicates that such currencies are not a universal substitute. Of the 30 advanced countries that report to the International Monetary Fund, only four hold no gold as part of their reserve balances. Indeed, at market prices, the gold held by the central banks of developed economies was worth $762 billion as of December 31, 2013, comprising 10.3 percent of their overall reserve balances. (The IMF held an additional $117 billion.) “

“If, in the words of the British economist John Maynard Keynes, gold were a “barbarous relic,” central banks around the world would not have so much of an asset whose rate of return, including storage costs, is negative.”

In the article, he also suggests that China will find it hard to compete with the U.S. in the long term as China is an authoritarian, one party state and does not have free markets.

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