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Gold: The Once and Future Money Hardcover – May 4, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

In the first years of this new century, the price of gold nearly tripled. Why should today's investors take notice? Because gold is the ultimate competitor to the U.S. dollar. In this age of increasing global competition and military conflict, ignoring the gold market could be devastating for anyone seeking to build wealth over the long run. A vote for gold is a vote against the dollar, against paper money . . . and paper assets. It's a way of saying, "Yes, we know Mr. Bernanke, Mr. Bush, and Goldman Sachs are doing a good job, but it might be a good idea to have some REAL money, just in case."

The world's commercial centers have used one or another variant of a gold standard for most of the last three millennia. And for good reason: gold forces governments to be fiscally responsible and it provides a stable environment for rapid economic growth as well as a safe environment for individual investors to grow their own wealth.

For the last thirty-five years, the U.S. government has been able to "print" money at will. If history is any guide, this government will do as all governments have in the past: overprint, causing the currency to crash. Inevitably, they will be forced to return to the gold standard, but at great expense and with considerable suffering. Investors who are not prepared will suffer the most.

Unfortunately, asserts Nathan Lewis, both advocates and detractors of the gold standard grossly misunderstand the inner workings of this human institution. In making his case for a return to the gold standard, Lewis takes a whirlwind tour of money in all its forms, from the seventh century B.C. to the present day, explaining in straightforward layman's terms the effects of inflation, deflation, and floating currencies along with their effect on prices, wages, taxes, and debt.

Lewis also provides an engaging history of U.S. money and offers a sobering look at recent currency crises around the world, including the Asian monetary crisis of the late 1990s and the devastating currency devaluations in Russia, China, Mexico, and Yugoslavia. And, in doing so, explains why making gold a part of your portfolio has never been more important than it is today.

The ultimate conclusion of Gold: The Once and Future Money is simple but powerful: the gold standard produced decades, even centuries, of solid money and economic abundance. If history is any guide, we can –and should–abandon this era of easy money and return to the stability of the gold standard.

From the Back Cover

Praise for GOLD

"When it comes to international monetary economics, most economists fail to connect the dots. In many cases, they fail to even see them. Gold doesn't suffer these problems. Nathan Lewis's book is a readable account of the present in light of the past for purposes of the future."
—Steve H. Hanke, Professor of Applied Economics, The Johns Hopkins University

"Gold is the ultimate hedge against crisis and inflation. You can't depend on paper money assets to protect you during a panic. Hard assets are the only guarantee as an insurance policy against bad times. This book gives you the historical perspective to prepare you for the unknown."
—Mark Skousen, Editor, Forecasts & Strategies

"Gold: The Once and Future Money is a 'how-to' manual for understanding the true nature of money and a guide to the action you should take to protect your wealth."
—Byron W. King, Editor, Outstanding Investments

"A money payment must involve a tendering of tangible money, gold, or silver, or of a credit instrument entitling the owner to the undoubted right of its redemption, in gold or silver. As Nathan Lewis makes clear, the world, as of the year 2007, does not possess a means of payment. That humanity is unaware of the stupendously important fact that it lives in a world without money is perhaps the most singular feature of our contemporary world."
—Hugo Salinas Price, President, Mexican Civic Association Pro Silver

"In this delectable tome, Nathan Lewis describes the booms, busts, the bubbles, and the crises in the economies of dozens of countries, from centuries ago to the present day. It is a romp through history, illuminating along the way money in all its forms—from wampum and shells to silver and gold—and details the catastrophic effects of inflation, deflation, floating currencies, and every kind of tax a government functionary could dream to impose on an economy. Gold highlights the folly of human beings throughout history who think 'the economy' is but a machine to be tinkered with and fine-tuned like a Bentley, or worse, a rusty Yugo."
—From the Foreword by Addison Wiggin, author, The Demise of the Dollar

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470047666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470047668
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #515,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kaveh Hariri on July 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Let me start of by saying that it seems the last reviewer didn't even read the book! This book pushes a "type" of psuedo-gold standard, not the original gold standard. That said, the problems laid out by the reviewer don't even make sense under a true gold standard. A true gold standard does not mean that people use gold coins to purchase groceries or even homes. A gold standard, in the classical sense, means that there is no Federal Reserve or Central bank, at least not in its current form, and the dollar is DEFINED as a certain weight in gold. The monetary act of 1792 actually defined the dollar as 1 ounce of silver and then fixed the weights and measures of silver vs gold at 15 to 1. This was their error, so to speak.

Even under a true gold standard, where no central bank exists, paper dollars do exist, as do checking accounts, savings accounts, et al. The process would work much like it does today with the exception that a paper dollar would be in the form of a receipt on gold. Private banks would hold your gold (some percentage of it) on reserve at the bank while issing you a deposit or savings account with the right to draw on the account in question. But I'm digressing --i don't have time to outline the true classical gold standard. This book espouses no such thing as the classical gold standard ---it pushes a psuedo gold standard which I describe below:

It is a gold peg. Peg the dollar at a certain value of gold --say the current price of $660 per ounce. Currently the FED is responsible for setting interest rates, the discount rate directly and the FED funds rate indirectly through money supply adjustments.
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Format: Hardcover
I have to say that I am by nature in favor of stable money, realistic currency valuations, and conservative accounting in private affairs and especially in public affairs. To allow politics to pretend they have a magic solution to defy the laws of economics (or simple arithmetic) to make everyone better off has never worked and can never work. Just as getting a new line of credit that you use up and spend immediately seems like new wealth for a brief period of time, the piper still must be paid on the other end. Even if you come into some money and can pay it off without terrible hardship, you have still pre-spent this money. Yes, there are good uses of credit, but most government expenditures are no better than running up credit cards on going out to eat and buying items that will be worn out long before the credit is paid off.

This is why there is an ardent group of people who want to base the value of money on a commodity rather than using fiat money (money whose value is what the government claims it to be - what we have). This book makes a pretty good case for using gold and for those interested in such things, it is something one could read and get up to speed on the issues involved. Besides a great fondness for gold, these folks have an especial hatred of central banks of all stripes and see them as tools of the forces that would undermine liberty, freedom, and personal independence. While unusual, they aren't crazy and deserve more of a hearing than they are usually given.

Still, there are some basic problems with the story as I see it. The first is that the author uses quotes from various "authorities" as proof texts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At 420 pages not including notes and index, this is a long but interesting treatise on the economic conditions that promote or impede prosperity. Nathan Lewis, the author, argues that the economic building blocks of prosperity are (1) stable money and (2) low taxes. Lewis cites historical and contemporary examples around globe that show, time and again, that governments of all types, totalitarian and democratic alike, cannot resist the temptation in times of scarcity to increase the money supply (i.e., to "print more money" either directly or by some more indirect form of currency manipulation), seeking painless, short-term relief from economic woes. However, money like any other good or service is subject to the law of Supply and Demand, and when the money supply increases, the value of the currency drops, leading to inflation, devalued currency, and a world of economic misery. All historical periods of sustained economic growth and prosperity have been underpinned by a "stable currency" or "hard money", i.e., a currency whose value has meaning and consistency, and the most stable currency has been that which is pegged to the precious metal gold.

Because economic instability leads to political instability, an understanding of these fundamental monetary principles is essential to an understanding of world events. The student of history who follows only notable political or military changes, but fails to account for the precipitating economic changes, fails to fully appreciate the causes of the rise and fall of nations and regimes. Lewis is refreshingly non-ideological at key junctures in his narrative, asserting at one point "Good socialism is better than bad capitalism" and offering similar aphorisms along the way.
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