Last year, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) speculated that there might not be any gold in the vaults of the New York Federal Reserve and Fort Knox. Last month, the Utah Legislature passed a bill establishing gold and silver as legal tender, thumbing its nose at the Fed in the process. In this climate of concern (legitimate and otherwise) regarding the role of central bankers and the value of the greenback, the conspiracy theorist's history of gold is long overdue. Here it is.
An edited history of gold in the U.S.
For each event, I start with the official history, before revealing their true nature:
1792: The Coinage Act creates a silver-gold standard, and sets the value of the U.S. dollar at 24.75 grains of fine gold and 371.25 grains of fine silver.
Finest piece of monetary legislation ever passed; the cornerstone of sound money and fiscal probity. Good times.
1837: The weight of gold in the U.S. dollar is reduced to 23.22 grains; the U.S. dollar is now valued at $20.67 per ounce.
What's this? The government is already debasing the dollar a mere 45 years after establashing its initial value? Nothing good can come of this.
1913: The Federal Reserve Act establishes the Federal Reserve. Federal Reserve Notes are backed by gold ... up to 40%.
Disaster. The Federal Reserve is born from the unholy coupling of the financial and government elites. The Fed was modeled on a proposal drawn up by Sen. Nelson Aldrich and a group of prominent bankers during a secret meeting on Jekyll Island, Ga., in 1910. The plutocracy has sounded the death knell for the dollar.
[Note: A secret meeting on Jekyll Island? A Hollywood screenwriter could scarcely have written a better script to excite the imagination of conspiracy buffs. Nevertheless, all these facts are true.]
1933: In response to the banking panic, President Franklin Roosevelt ends private ownership of all forms of gold.
The Fed and New York banks orchestrate a banking panic designed to force Roosevelt to establish a government monopoly over the gold market.
1934: The Gold Reserve Act hands the government permanent ownership of all monetary gold and ends the minting of gold coins. President Roosevelt debases the dollar, settting the price of gold at $35 per ounce.
The government and the Fed consolidate their power as gold monopolists. Not content to own all the gold, the financiers convince Roosevelt to debase the dollar in order to beggar the American working class.
1942: Roosevelt shutters all U.S. gold mines by presidential edict.
Roosevelt cuts off the gold supply in order to create scarcity and drive up the value of the holdings the government stole just eight years earlier.
1945: Gold-backing of Federal Reserve Notes lowered by 25.5%.
The Fed jump-starts its Monopoly money machine.
1974: American citizens are allowed to own gold again.
An obvious ruse to track down true patriots. Don't buy your gold from official sources!
1987: Creation of the World Gold Council to promote the end uses of gold. Current members include Yamana Gold
False flag operation to distract the public from the real masters of the gold market: central bankers, financiers, and the Knights Templar.
2004: Launch of SPDR Gold Shares
These fancy financial products amount to nothing more than paper gold. The SPDR Gold Shares' custodian is HSBC -- one of the largest banks in the world. That ought to tell you all you need to know: It's like handing the bankers the keys to your gold vault.
Is Ron Paul a contrarian indicator?
When politicians start agitating for a return to the gold standard, could it be a contrarian indicator that we are near a top in gold? Not really, but it could be indicative of the feedback loops that fuel bubbles: Rapid price increases draw greater interest from all quarters.
In 1981, Treasury Secretary Donald Regan announced the creation of a Gold Commission "to make recommendations with regard to the policy of the U.S. government concerning the role of gold in domestic and international monetary systems." The following year, the commission released its report recommending no new role for gold. Over the 10-year period from the date on which the commission was established in law, gold declined more than 40% in nominal terms.
In any case, as I describe here, there are some serious indicators that suggest gold is overpriced at current levels. I'm not a big fan of owning gold. Gold miners, on the other hand, make a lot more sense to me. Resident gold expert Christopher Barker has identified an undiscovered thoroughbred in that sector.
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Fool contributor Alex Dumortier, CFA, has no beneficial interest in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can follow him on Twitter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.