Saturday, August 28, 2010

Why Gold is Up in this Deflationary Environment

I've run across an excellent commentary at The Privateer, entitled "Puzzling - Gold is Going Up Again." He is responding to an August 20, 2010 article on CNN's

As the Privateer points out, some analysts are scratching their head trying to figure out why gold is rising even as inflationary fears are subsiding. This seems counterintuitive.

[Thanks to for the photo.]

Mr. Privateer puts his figure right on the answer to the quandary: monetary inflating. Some call it quantitative easing (QE). We could also call it Helicopter-Benning, or, as the more old-fashioned among us would say, printing money.

The U.S. central bank is finding itself between the proverbial rock and hard place. The rock: stagnation in the American economy. The hard place: The limitation of its power to do anything about it. But they can't just sit there; they have to act. They're supposed to be controlling this thing.

So the Fed Governors--at least a majority of them anyway--seem to have taken this line of conduct:

When in doubt, pull the checkbook out, and make the bogey-man pout.

Ben Bernanke, the figurehead of this majority, once swore to Milton Friedman that we would never see a deflationary episode like the Great Depression of 1929. Some astute analysts are claiming that we are indeed already seeing the deflationary episode, only it is disguised behind a wall of monetary inflating.

Mr. Privateer is one of them. Here are Mr. Privateer's words:

"Not only is 'quantitative easing' inflationary, it is the absolute last resort of the entire inflationary process. Inflation being defined as an INCREASE IN THE TOTAL STOCK OF MONEY. There are quite a few people out there in the world, and in the US too, who understand what inflation is. These same people understand that rising prices are one amongst very many RESULTS of inflation."

[Ah, a rational human being at last!]

"These same people understand that the destruction of 'wealth' measured in terms of money which has taken place over the GFC [I assume this means Global Financial Crisis] to date has more than offset the creation of new money which governments in general and the US government in particular have been desperately resorting to."

"There is not the slightest chance that there will emerge any GENUINE way out of the GFC until such time as the gargantuan malinvestments propelled by the credit money boom which has now collapsed are liquidated on a market. Every day that this is delayed makes the situation worse. Every new 'Dollar' created by governments and their banking system makes the situation worse. Every new Dollar created in this manner is inflation, pure and simple. The fact that prices are rising or falling has nothing to do with it. Inflation is an increase in the stock of money."

My heart pitter-pattered as I read this. One could hear my sighs of genuine relief at not finding myself alone in this cold world.

The author is correct. I would just add that the nation's "regime confusion" is also contributing to the stagnation. (Robert Higgs calls it "regime uncertainty.")

The question is: what do we do?

Here is the Privateer's response:

"The [CNN] article concludes with the assertion that once the GFC is 'over', there will be no reason to own Gold. The problem is that the GFC will not end - or even properly begin - until money can no longer be 'created' out of thin air. Today, while the Europeans are making some moves towards reducing their deficit spending and while Asia is losing its appetite for US Treasury paper, there is no sign of that happening."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


"...until money can no longer be 'created' out of thin air..."

This just a shorthand reference with the potential to mislead.

What really counts is whether the profitability of producing money is sufficient to make it worthwhile.

Even if it cost the government $75 to make a $100 bill, would they stop adding to the quantity of money?

Regards, Don

11:31 PM  

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