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Government money manipulation and floating currencies

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Government money manipulation and floating currencies have appeared since before the birth of Christ; and also since before the birth of Christ, the discontented citizenry has brought to the fore Good Money Is Stable Money 8
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political leaders to return their country’s currency to stability. Alexander of Macedonia unified the Mediterranean world under a hard silver coinage; 25 centuries later, he remains known as “the Great.” Julius Caesar returned Rome’s currency to a gold standard, and he remains an icon of Rome’s greatness. Alexander Hamilton helped launch the United States with a gold dollar, and his face today graces the $10 bill. The person who hired him, George Washington, is on the $1 bill. Napoleon returned France’s currency to a gold stan- dard, and the French accepted him as their emperor. Lenin returned hyperinflationary Russia to the gold standard, and statues of him were erected throughout the land. Mao Tse-tung returned China to a gold standard, and the country rallied around him. The U.S. occu- pation government in Japan returned the hyperinflationary yen to the gold standard in 1949, and the Japanese allied themselves with the country that attacked them with nuclear weapons only three years earlier. Richard Nixon plunged the world into monetary chaos, and he remains the only U.S. president ever torn from office. Ronald Reagan, the “Teflon president,” whose popularity en- dured through crisis and scandal, came close to returning the dollar to the gold standard in the 1980s, but settled instead for an end to the devaluation policies that dominated the 1970s. Bill Clinton may have learned his lesson: An economic boom based on his administration’s strong dollar policy—abandoning a century-long tradition of cheap- dollar Democrats—put voters in a forgiving mood regarding his other dubious escapades. The voters know that it is by no means cer- tain that future presidents will be so wise. Chaotic currencies have been stabilized countless times. It has already happened three times in United States history alone—or five, depending on how you count. The situation today is not unique in that sense, though the challenge facing governments, politicians, and the citizenry today is as great as it has ever been. Until 1971, in all of history the world had never faced a situation where the entire mon- etary system of the globe had been separated from its traditional metallic anchors. There had always been floating currencies, but never had all currencies floated simultaneously. More than ever, it GOLD: THE ONCE AND FUTURE MONEY 9
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will take a leader with deep understanding, vision, and backbone to guide a return to monetary stability. That leader would best be an American, since the U.S. dollar remains the world’s leading currency, but might turn out to be European, Chinese, English, Japanese, Rus- sian, or Argentinean. If so, after a number of years the world might drop the floating dollar and adopt the euro, renminbi, pound, yen, or yes, even the ruble. The first U.S. currency was confetti issued by a government that soon collapsed. For two centuries afterward, “not worth a Continental” was a casual term for worthlessness. It wasn’t
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