QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong, My wife insists that I write to thank you for making me invest in stocks rather than gold. We split the money, and my wife invested in the Dow with your 2015 ECM turn, and I kept the gold. She beat me on the Dow since it closed in 2023, up about 250%. After reading your input into history, am I correct that this argument of fiat currency is erroneous? It seems like civilizations have risen and fallen, no matter the money system at the time. Could you elaborate on whether this is true or false?
ANSWER: Not many men would admit their wives beat them in investments. Many things have been used for money, from bronze and clam shells to emergency paper currency. Those who insist that somehow gold is the only thing that is money do not know their history, and in the process, they have been misled seriously, which actually prevents them from seeing the real problem. Bitcoin is not money nor a medium of exchange because not everyone will accept it. A medium of exchange has to be something that everyone accepts.
There is a common theme that runs through ALL forms of money, and it has NOTHING to do with what is being used as the medium of exchange.
If we are objective, even metal has varied. Bronze was valuable because it could be used to make a tool or a weapon – hence the Bronze Age. It was first used in an ingot form. However, it was cast in the shape of an earlier form of money – sheepskins. Thus, the story of Jason is in search of the golden fleece.
The Romans cast bronze into ingots, and the value was equal to one head of cattle. The first coins of Rome are also bronze, beginning with just lumps and then taking the standardized weight and shape. In Turkey, they began with what was known as electrum, which was a natural alloy mixture of gold and silver found in the riverbeds.
The official first coins were struck in Lydia, modern-day Turkey. This was the first “fiat” money since it was declared a standard value by the king, who applied the image of a lion. This was his badge, certifying its value and weight.
For example, there was a metal that was second to gold, which was really just brass. Orichalcum was the legendary metal of Atlantis, whose buildings were said to have been clad in this rare metal that looked similar to gold. Orichalcum was mined in Atlantis in ancient times, but by the time of Plato, this metal was unknown. Orichalcum was a legend by Plato’s time when he mentioned it in his story of Atlantis in the Critas of Plato.
By the Julio-Claudian time, Orichalcum was again being mined. Nero experimented with issuing the traditional bronze coinage in Orichalcum (brass). To render the Dupondius distinguishable from its half-denomination, Roman As a radiate crown was added to this denomination, leaving the traditional laurel wreath style portrait for the Roman As. The Dupondius reform prevailed until the end of Dupondius’s regular issues, while the experiment in brass died out following Hadrian (117-138AD).
A gold standard will not solve the problem because it is NOT what is being used as money but the system. If governments issued platinum coins and claimed these are worth $100,000 each, that is also fiat, where the government decrees the value. This common thread that runs through everything is the trustworthiness of the government. As long as we have socialism, where politicians promise things, they will always create more money to accomplish that. DEBT = MONEY that pays interest. People also point to the Fed and overlook the fact that it is Congress that creates the bulk of the money by issuing debt that can be used as an asset in a loan.
Gold will not solve the problem. We need political reform FIRST and then worry about constraining government thereafter.