Gold: A Glittering History
CNBC "On-Air Stocks" Editor
Gold, of course, is still of value as a store of private wealth. In fact, President Gerald Ford legalized private ownership of gold coins, bars and certificates in 1974.
Should the world return to the gold standard? It's attractive for some. Price stability is its one great virtue, since a government cannot change the money supply without changing the gold supply.
But the math doesn't even come close to adding up. Do it yourself: The total amount of gold ever mined is about 165,600 metric tons. That's about 5.8 billion ounces, multiplied by $1,500 an ounce, which is about $8.7 trillion. That's just about the roughly $8 trillion that is the total value of the money circulating or on deposit — M2 — in just the United States. Even if you think the U.S. money supply is inflated, it's clear the world would have to dramatically shrink the amount of money in circulation to go back to the gold standard.
For more on the history of gold:
The History Channel's 2001 special, "Gold: the History of Man's Greatest Obsession" also mines similar territory.