Last updated on: 2/21/2013 | Author:

Matthew O'Brien Biography

Associate Editor at The Atlantic
Con to the question "Should the United States Return to a Gold Standard?"

“After a 32-year hiatus, the [Republican] party’s official [2012] platform will include a plank calling for a commission to look at the possible return of the gold standard. There might be worse ideas than this, but they generally involve jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge because everybody else is doing it…

Economics is often a contentious subject, but economists agree about the gold standard – it is a barbarous relic that belongs in the dustbin of history…

It prevents the central bank from fighting recessions by outsourcing monetary policy decisions to how much gold we have – which, in turn, depends on our trade balance and on how much of the shiny rock we can dig up…

Why would anyone want to go back to the bad old days? The gold standard limited central banks from printing money when economies needed central banks to print money, and limited governments from running deficits when economies needed governments to run deficits. It was a devilish device for turning recessions into depressions…

Prices would have to fall a great deal if we adopted the gold standard today. In other words, it would turn the imagined problem of price stability into a real problem of price stability. And, of course, this ensuing deflation would send the economy into a death spiral due to still high levels of household debt.”

“Why the Gold Standard Is the World’s Worst Economic Idea, in 2 Charts,”, Aug. 26, 2012

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Associate Editor, The Atlantic
  • Former Intern, The New Republic
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