Central banks’ attitudes towards gold are inevitably changing, even if this is done at the speed of a ship. In the 1990s, they sold their gold (notably France and England), then stopped these sales in the 2000s in the face of rising prices, while understanding their mistake, to start acquiring gold starting in the 2010s, mainly from emerging countries (China, Asia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Middle East), lagging behind the major holders (United States, Germany, Italy, France).
Since July 3, a new step has been taken: Donald Trump has just appointed Judy Shelton to the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed), the central bank’s governing body, which has only seven members, including the institution’s President, Jerome Powell, in office since February 5, 2018. Each appointment is therefore of particular importance. She will be accompanied by Christopher Waller, current Executive Vice-President of the St. Louis Fed, and both will have to be confirmed by the Senate.
And, rightly so, Judy Shelton has made a name for herself as a fan of the gold standard through several recently published articles. She approaches the gold standard through international trade – a rather original approach – since she deplores on April 21, in the Wall Street Journal, that, “Meanwhile, for all the talk of a “rules-based” system for international trade, […] today’s arrangements permit governments to manipulate their currencies to gain an export advantage” while the gold standard establishes an “international benchmark for currency values”, in accordance with the principles of free trade, which prevents cheating (by de facto making gold the “single currency” of international trade). An argument that must have been appreciated by President Trump, who regularly complains about monetary manipulation by China and Europe.
Another atypical point of view, and rather cheeky for someone who is going to sit on the board of a central bank, she wondered “whether this might be better assured by linking the supply of money and credit to gold […] as opposed to relying on the judgment of a dozen or so monetary officials meeting eight times a year to set interest rates”. The leaders of the world’s major central banks have too much power, let’s trust gold instead! We can only approve of it. She also suggests, in 2018 in an article in the Cato Institute, that the United States should propose “a new international monetary system linked in some way to gold, […] while also promoting genuine free trade based on a solid monetary foundation”.
These are extremely innovative and encouraging statements for someone who, once appointed to the Governing Council, could take over the supreme office, the presidency of the Fed… In the meantime, we will already note this significant additional shift aimed at giving back gold a role in international trade and monetary policy. After gold became a risk-free asset under the Basel III agreements last March, with regard to commercial banks, here is another important step forward for the future of gold.
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