History of Gold

The use of paper money, convertible into gold, to replace gold coins, originated in China in the 9th century CE.Gold standards replaced the use of gold coins as currency in the 17th-19th centuries in Europe.

In the 1790s Britain suffered a massive shortage of silver coinage and ceased to mint larger silver coins. It issued "token" silver coins and overstruck foreign coins. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain began a massive recoinage program that created standard gold sovereigns and circulating crowns, half-crowns, and eventually copper farthings in 1821. In 1833, Bank of England notes were made legal tender, and redemption by other banks was discouraged. In 1844 the Bank Charter Act established that Bank of England notes, fully backed by gold, were the legal standard. According to the strict interpretation of the gold standard, this 1844 Act marks the establishment of a full gold standard for British money.

Dates of adoption of a gold standard
1717: United Kingdom at £1 to 113 grains (7.32 g) of fine gold.
1818: Netherlands at 1 guilder to 0.60561 g gold.
1834: United States de facto at 20.67 dollars to 1 troy oz (31.1 g) gold
1854: Portugal at 1000 réis to 1.62585 g gold.
1871: Germany at 2790 Goldmarks to 1 kg gold.
1871: Japan at 1 yen to 1.5 g gold.
1873: Latin Monetary Union (Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, France) at 31 francs to 9.0 g gold
1875: Scandinavian monetary union: (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) at 2480 kroner to 1 kg gold.
1876: France internally.
1876: Spain at 31 pesetas to 9.0 g gold.
1878: Finland at 31 marks to 9.0 g gold.
1879: Austria (see Austrian florin and Austrian crown).
1881: Argentina at 1 peso to 1.4516 g gold.
1893: Russia at 31 roubles to 24.0 g gold.
1897: Japan at 1 yen devalued to 0.75 g gold.
1898: India (see Indian rupee).
1900: United States de jure.
Throughout the post-Civil War decade of the 1870s deflationary and depressionary economics created periodic demands for silver currency. However, attempts to introduce such currency generally failed, and continued the general pressure towards a gold standard. By 1879, only gold coins were accepted through the Latin Monetary Union, composed of France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and later Greece, even though silver was, in theory, a circulating medium.

Suspension of the gold standard
Governments faced with the need to fund high levels of expenditure, but with limited sources of tax revenue, suspended convertibility of currency into gold on a number of occasions in the 19th century. The British government suspended convertibility during the Napoleonic wars and the US government during the US Civil War. In both cases, convertibility was resumed after the war.

Gold standard from peak to crisis (1901–1932)

Suspending gold payments to fund the war

As in previous major wars under its gold standard, the British government suspended the convertibility of Bank of England notes to gold in 1914 to fund military operations during World War I. By the end of the war Britain was on a series of fiat currency regulations, which monetized Postal Money Orders and Treasury Notes. The government later called these notes banknotes, which are different from US Treasury notes. The United States government took similar measures. After the war, Germany, having lost much of its gold in reparations, could no longer coin gold "Reichsmarks" and moved to paper currency, although the Weimar Republic later introduced the "rentenmark" and later the gold-backed reichsmark in an effort to control hyperinflation.

As had happened after previous major wars, the UK was returned to the gold standard in 1925, by a somewhat reluctant Winston Churchill. Although a higher gold price and significant inflation had followed the wartime suspension, Churchill followed tradition by resuming conversion payments at the pre-war gold price. For five years prior to 1925 the gold price was managed downward to the pre-war level, causing deflation throughout those countries of the British Empire and Commonwealth using the Pound Sterling. But the rise in demand for gold for conversion payments that followed the similar European resumptions from 1925 to 1928 meant a further rise in demand for gold relative to goods and therefore the need for a lower price of goods because of the fixed rate of conversion from money to goods. In order to attract gold, Britain needed to increase the value of investing in their domestic assets. They needed to increase the demand for the pound. By doing this, Britain attracted gold from the stronger US, which decreased the US money supply as well as depressed Britain’s own economy. Because of these price declines and predictable depressionary effects, the British government finally abandoned the standard September 21, 1931. Sweden abandoned the gold standard in October 1931; and other European nations soon followed. Even the U.S. government, which possessed most of the world's gold ($175 million flowed into the U.S. in 1929, and $280 million in 1930)moved to cushion the effects of the Great Depression by raising the official price of gold (from about $20 to $35 per ounce) and thereby substantially raising the equilibrium price level in 1933-4.

Depression and World War II

British hesitate to return to gold standard

During the 1939–1942 period, the UK depleted much of its gold stock in purchases of munitions and weaponry on a "cash and carry" basis from the U.S. and other nations. This depletion of the UK's reserve convinced Winston Churchill of the impracticality of returning to a pre-war style gold standard. To put it simply the war had bankrupted Britain. John Maynard Keynes, who had argued against such a gold standard, proposed to put the power to print money in the hands of the privately owned Bank of England. Keynes, in warning about the menaces of inflation, said "By a continuous process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method, they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some". Quite possibly because of this, the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement established the International Monetary Fund and an international monetary system based on convertibility of the various national currencies into a U.S. dollar that was in turn convertible into gold. It also prevented countries from manipulating their currency's value to gain an edge in international trade.

Post-war international gold standard (1946–1971)
Main article: Bretton Woods system

After the Second World War, a system similar to the Gold Standard was established by the Bretton Woods Agreements. Under this system, many countries fixed their exchange rates relative to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. promised to fix the price of gold at $35 per ounce. Implicitly, then, all currencies pegged to the dollar also had a fixed value in terms of gold. Under the regime of the French President Charles de Gaulle up to 1970, France reduced its dollar reserves, trading them for gold from the U.S. government, thereby reducing U.S. economic influence abroad. This, along with the fiscal strain of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society expenditures and the Vietnam War, led President Richard Nixon to eliminate the fixed gold price in 1971, causing the system to break down.


The history of money consists of three phases: commodity money, in which actual valuable objects are bartered; then representative money, in which paper notes (often called 'certificates') are used to represent real commodities stored elsewhere; and finally fiat money, in which paper notes are backed only by use of' "lawful force and legal tender laws" of the government, in particular by its acceptability for payments of debts to the government (usually taxes).

Commodity money is inconvenient to store and transport. It also does not allow the government to control or regulate the flow of commerce within their dominion with the same ease that a standardized currency does. As such, commodity money gave way to representative money, and gold and other specie were retained as its backing.

Gold was a common form of representative money due to its rarity, durability, divisibility, fungibility, and ease of identification,often in conjunction with silver. Silver was typically the main circulating medium, with gold as the metal of monetary reserve.

It is difficult to manipulate a gold standard to tailor to an economy’s demand for money, providing practical constraints against the measures that central banks might otherwise use to respond to economic crises.

The Gold Standard variously specified how the gold backing would be implemented, including the amount of specie per currency unit. The currency itself is just paper and so has no innate value, but is accepted by traders because it can be redeemed any time for the equivalent specie. A U.S. silver certificate, for example, could be redeemed for an actual piece of silver.

Representative money and the Gold Standard protect citizens from hyperinflation and other abuses of monetary policy, as were seen in some countries during the Great Depression. However, they were not without their problems and critics, and so were partially abandoned via the international adoption of the Bretton Woods System. That system eventually collapsed in 1971, at which time all nations had switched to full fiat money.

According to later analysis, the earliness with which a country left the gold standard reliably predicted its economic recovery. For example, Great Britain and Scandinavia, which left the gold standard in 1931, recovered much earlier than France and Belgium, which remained on gold much longer. Countries such as China, which had a silver standard, almost avoided the depression entirely. The connection between leaving the gold standard as a strong predictor of that country's severity of its depression and the length of time of its recovery has been shown to be consistent for dozens of countries, including developing countries. This partly explains why the experience and length of the depression differed between national economies.

Differing definitions of gold standard

A 100% reserve gold standard, or a full gold standard exists when the monetary authority holds sufficient gold to convert all circulating money into gold at the promised exchange rate. It is sometimes referred to as the Gold Specie Standard to more easily identify it from other forms of the gold standard that have existed at various times. A 100% reserve standard is generally considered difficult to implement as the quantity of gold in the world is too small to sustain current worldwide economic activity at current gold prices. Its implementation would entail a many-fold increase in the price of gold. Furthermore, the "necessary" quantity of money (i.e. one that avoids either inflation or deflation) is not a fixed quantity, but varies continuously with the level of commercial activity. The currencies or banknotes that were backed by the Gold standard were the old German Reichsmarks, Yugoslav dinars, Turkish liras, Brazilian cruzeiros, Croatian dinars, Polish złoty, Argentine peso leys, Angola Kwanzas reajastodos, Zairean zaires and Bolivian bolivianos.

In an international gold-standard system (which is necessarily based on an internal gold standard in the countries concerned) gold or a currency that is convertible into gold at a fixed price is used as a means of making international payments. Under such a system, when exchange rates rise above or fall below the fixed mint rate by more than the cost of shipping gold from one country to another, large inflows or outflows occur until the rates return to the official level. International gold standards often limit which entities have the right to redeem currency for gold. Under the Bretton Woods system, these were called "SDRs" for Special Drawing Rights.


The theory of the gold standard rests on the idea that maximal increases in governmental purchasing power during wartime emergencies require post-war deflations, which would not occur without monetary institutions like the gold standard, which insist upon return to pre-war price-levels and therefore deflationary wartime expectations.

The gold standard limits the power of governments to inflate prices through excessive issuance of paper currency. It may tend to reduce uncertainty in international trade by providing a fixed pattern of international exchange rates. Under the classical international gold standard, disturbances in price levels in one country would be partly or wholly offset by an automatic balance-of-payment adjustment mechanism called the "price specie flow mechanism."


Gold prices (US$ per ounce) since 1968, in nominal US$ and inflation adjusted US$.

The total amount of gold that has ever been mined has been estimated at around 142,000 tonnes.Assuming a gold price of US$1,000 per ounce, or $32,500 per kilogram, the total value of all the gold ever mined would be around $4.5 trillion. This is less than the value of circulating money in the U.S. alone, where more than $8.3 trillion is in circulation or in deposit (M2). Therefore, a return to the gold standard, if also combined with a mandated end to fractional reserve banking, would result in a significant increase in the current value of gold, which may limit its use in current applications. For example, instead of using the ratio of $1,000 per ounce, the ratio can be defined as $2,000 per ounce (or $1,000 per 1/2 ounce) effectively raising the value of gold to $8 trillion. However, this is specifically a perceived disadvantage of return to the gold standard and not the efficacy of the gold standard itself. Some gold standard advocates consider this to be both acceptable and necessary whilst others who are not opposed to fractional reserve banking argue that only base currency and not deposits would need to be replaced.The amount of such base currency (M0) is only about one tenth as much as the figure (M1) listed above.

Most mainstream economists believe that economic recessions can be largely mitigated by increasing money supply during economic downturns. Following a gold standard would mean that the amount of money would be determined by the supply of gold, and hence monetary policy could no longer be used to stabilize the economy in times of economic recession.

Monetary policy would essentially be determined by the rate of gold production. Fluctuations in the amount of gold that is mined could cause inflation if there is an increase, or deflation if there is a decrease. Some hold the view that this contributed to the severity and length of the Great Depression.

Some have contended that the gold standard may be susceptible to speculative attacks when a government's financial position appears weak. For example, some believe the United States was forced to raise its interest rates in the middle of the Great Depression to defend the credibility of its currency

If a country wanted to devalue its currency, it would produce sharper changes, in general, than the smooth declines seen in fiat currencies, depending on the method of devaluation.

Advocates of a renewed gold standard

The return to the gold standard is supported by many followers of the Austrian School of Economics, Objectivists and libertarians largely because they object to the role of the government in issuing fiat currency through central banks. A significant number of gold standard advocates also call for a mandated end to fractional reserve banking; however, this view is far from universal.

Few lawmakers today advocate a return to the gold standard, other than adherents of the Austrian school and some supply-siders. However, many prominent economists have expressed sympathy with a hard currency basis, and have argued against fiat money, including former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (himself a former Objectivist), and macro-economist Robert Barro. Greenspan famously argued the case for returning to a gold standard in his 1966 paper "Gold and Economic Freedom", in which he described supporters of fiat currencies as "welfare statists" hell-bent on using monetary printing presses to finance deficit spending. He has argued that the fiat money system of today has retained the favorable properties of the gold standard because central bankers have pursued monetary policy as if a gold standard were still in place. U.S. Congressman Ron Paul and many others argue for the reinstatement of the gold standard because gold has intrinsic value as representative money due to its physical properties. That is, it is fungible, liquid, divisible, easily recognizable, and rare.

The current global monetary system relies on the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency by which major transactions, such as the price of gold itself, are measured. Currency instabilities, inconvertibility and credit access restriction are a few reasons why the current system has been criticized. A host of alternatives have been suggested, including energy-based currencies, market baskets of currencies or commodities; gold is merely one of these alternatives.

In 2001 Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad proposed a new currency that would be used initially for international trade among Muslim nations. The currency he proposed was called the Islamic gold dinar and it was defined as 4.25 grams of 24 carat (100%) gold. Mahathir Mohamad promoted the concept on the basis of its economic merits as a stable unit of account and also as a political symbol to create greater unity between Islamic nations. The purported purpose of this move would be to reduce dependence on the United States dollar as a reserve currency, and to establish a non-debt-backed currency in accord with Islamic law against the charging of interest However, to date, Mahathir's proposed gold-dinar currency has failed to become an accomplished fact.

Gold as a reserve today
Main article: Official gold reserves

During the 1990s Russia liquidated much of the former USSR's gold reserves, while several other nations accumulated gold in preparation for the Economic and Monetary Union. The Swiss Franc left a full gold-convertible backing. However, gold reserves are held in significant quantity by many nations as a means of defending their currency, and hedging against the U.S. Dollar, which forms the bulk of liquid currency reserves. Weakness in the U.S. Dollar tends to be offset by strengthening of gold prices. Gold remains a principal financial asset of almost all central banks alongside foreign currencies and government bonds. It is also held by central banks as a way of hedging against loans to their own governments as an "internal reserve". Approximately 19% of all above-ground gold is held in reserves by central banks.Both gold coins and gold bars are widely traded in deeply liquid markets, and therefore still serve as a private store of wealth. Some privately issued currencies, such as digital gold currency, are backed by gold reserves.

In 1999, to protect the value of gold as a reserve, European Central Bankers signed the Washington Agreement on Gold which stated that they would not allow gold leasing for speculative purposes, nor would they "enter the market as sellers" except for sales that had already been agreed upon.


History of Foreign Exchange

Brief history of Forex trading

Initially, the value of goods was expressed in terms of other goods, i.e. an economy based on barter between individual market participants. The obvious limitations of such a system encouraged establishing more generally accepted means of exchange at a fairly early stage in history, to set a common benchmark of value. In different economies, everything from teeth to feathers to pretty stones has served this purpose, but soon metals, in particular gold and silver, established themselves as an accepted means of payment as well as a reliable storage of value.


Originally, coins were simply minted from the preferred metal, but in stable political regimes the introduction of a paper form of governmental IOUs (I owe you) gained acceptance during the Middle Ages. Such IOUs, often introduced more successfully through force than persuasion were the basis of modern currencies.


Before World War I, most central banks supported their currencies with convertibility to gold. Although paper money could always be exchanged for gold, in reality this did not occur often, fostering the sometimes disastrous notion that there was not necessarily a need for full cover in the central reserves of the government.


At times, the ballooning supply of paper money without gold cover led to devastating inflation and resulting political instability. To protect local national interests, foreign exchange controls were increasingly introduced to prevent market forces from punishing monetary irresponsibility.


In the latter stages of World War II, the Bretton Woods agreement was reached on the initiative of the USA in July 1944. The Bretton Woods Conference rejected John Maynard Keynes suggestion for a new world reserve currency in favour of a system built on the US dollar. Other international institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) were created in the same period as the emerging victors of WW2 searched for a way to avoid the destabilising monetary crises which led to the war. The Bretton Woods agreement resulted in a system of fixed exchange rates that partly reinstated the gold standard, fixing the US dollar at USD35/oz and fixing the other main currencies to the dollar - and was intended to be permanent.


The Bretton Woods system came under increasing pressure as national economies moved in different directions during the sixties. A number of realignments kept the system alive for a long time, but eventually Bretton Woods collapsed in the early seventies following president Nixon's suspension of the gold convertibility in August 1971. The dollar was no longer suitable as the sole international currency at a time when it was under severe pressure from increasing US budget and trade deficits.


The following decades have seen foreign exchange trading develop into the largest global market by far. Restrictions on capital flows have been removed in most countries, leaving the market forces free to adjust foreign exchange rates according to their perceived values.


But the idea of fixed exchange rates has by no means died. The EEC (European Economic Community) introduced a new system of fixed exchange rates in 1979, the European Monetary System. This attempt to fix exchange rates met with near extinction in 1992-93, when pent-up economic pressures forced devaluations of a number of weak European currencies. Nevertheless, the quest for currency stability has continued in Europe with the renewed attempt to not only fix currencies but actually replace many of them with the Euro in 2001.


The lack of sustainability in fixed foreign exchange rates gained new relevance with the events in South East Asia in the latter part of 1997, where currency after currency was devalued against the US dollar, leaving other fixed exchange rates, in particular in South America, looking very vulnerable.


But while commercial companies have had to face a much more volatile currency environment in recent years, investors and financial institutions have found a new playground. The size of foreign exchange markets now dwarfs any other investment market by a large factor. It is estimated that more than USD 3,000 billion is traded every day, far more than the world's stock and bond markets combined.


History of Futures


Crude oil prices are a matter of demand and supply as well as politics. Crude oil is the most heavily traded commodity in the world, with the futures listed in the New York Mercantile Exchange serves as the benchmark in international pricing. These futures trading in the NYMEX are for delivery in the United States. Therefore future prices are most sensitive to demand in the world's largest economy in addition to global consumption trend.


The United States is the world's largest crude oil consumer. Though its production is only second to Saudi Arabia, the country still depends heavily on omports to satisfy the demand. In 1999, its domestic crude oil output was 5,925 million bpd while net imports reached 8,478 million bpd. Crude oil futures are further influenced by the balance of oil refinery products. In the summer driving season, traditional marked by the Memorial Day, gasoline consumption will peak and affect the oil prices directly. In winter, the level of heating oil will play a major role instead. As a proxy to measure the demand and supply of oil procucts, market will monitor the weekly stock survey publish by the American Petroleum Institute and the Department of energy.


Founded in 1960, the OPEC now comprises of 11 nations. Its objective is to coordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries. Their output is crucial to oil price as only these gifted countries possess the spare capacity to produce more if the want. However, the cartel saw little success in manipulating the prices in history, mainly because a handful of oil-rich nations were pumping more oil when the cartel wanted to limit the supply. In 1998, the supply side saw a breakthrough as Mexico. Norway and Oman joined forced with the OPEC to lower their production in a bid to save the oil price from falling below $ 10 a barrel. Oil price as a result tripled in a year and brings the new output bloc. bind with mautual trust, to the international front stage. Figures in 1998 shown that OPEC and Mexico contributed almost 60 percent of total oil imports in US.