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Guest Post: The Golden Age Of Our Times Is The Age Of Gold

Towards a new international monetary system – Part 2.

[This is the English translation, first published here on 2014/04/10, of the original article written in French]

We first established in January 2013 the need to resolve the problem of the international monetary system, and its absolute priority. [1]

We then proposed in May 2013 a strategy to effectively prepare the necessary resilience to support the change in the international monetary system. [2] The various official announcements over the past months have largely confirmed that this anticipation was shared. [3]

The synthesis of this strategy was again stressed by Laurence Brahm on 21/10/2013:

” It is not the complete removal of the old Bretton Woods financial architecture but rather the creation of a new parallel structure to the old. Eventually, countries will be able to choose which architecture is better suited to their own plans for reconstruction and renovation. ” [4]

The Golden Age (Zucchi)
The Golden Age (Zucchi)

This week of March 2014 where I release this article sees an important step in international relations. It is nothing less than discussing the 2015 framework and choosing between the repetition of the Vienna Conference in 1815 (the Concert of Nations) or Yalta Conference in 1945 (the Cold War) that will support the “new rules of the game in international politics“. [5]

In fact, this week in Europe a large number of high level bilateral meetings take place:

– President Xi met with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, François Hollande, Angela Merkel and then with the European Commission president [6]

– President Obama met with President Xi, and then he has extended his trip at the last minute to meet the Heads of State of The Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, UAE, South Korea, Japan, then a meeting with the Pope in Rome and a meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia. [7] Followed by a planned meeting with Mr Barroso and Van Rompuy [8]

– The G7 meeting on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in 2014.

– And other bilateral meetings, more or less official and prepared, among other heads of state following their presence at the Nuclear Security Summit 2014.
Officially the goal is mostly to talk about the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea, or to sign some contracts. The public communiques will mention them.

We believe that other issues, much more important but related, will be discussed: those around the current reorganization of the new international monetary and financial system. [8.1]

Marketable U.S. Treasuries held by the Fed in custody for Foreign Official and International Accounts; till 3/26/2014; (Sources: St Louis Fed, Conscience-Sociale.org)
Marketable U.S. Treasuries held by the Fed in custody for Foreign Official and International Accounts; till 3/26/2014; (Sources: St Louis Fed, Conscience-Sociale.org)

Our analysis is that the Ukrainian crisis was triggered by the U.S. deep state in preparation for the introduction of this next reorganization. [9] This is to retain the EU in the area of U.S. domination. [9.1]

The time has come to clarify what we mean by new international monetary and financial system.
We believe this is not only about launching what is already announced:

– A Development Bank for BRICS parallel to the World Bank
– A BRICS stabilization fund parallel to the IMF
– New bilateral trade agreements parallel to the WTO but to go much further.


Firstly, the BRICS Development Bank is becoming a “Bank initiated by BRICS for the development of all interested parties” and whose governance is open to any state wishing to join with the framework agreement. [9.2]

Secondly, and this is the most innovative part: it is to create another institution parallel to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

This is the oldest international financial institution fully governed by the West (6 permanent members and founders are the central banks of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, UK and USA, which can have a double voting weight – analogy with Obama’s meetings this week is not a coincidence [10])

BIS is the central bank of central banks, that is to say, it organizes and manage trade between them … especially those concerning physical gold. Activities related to financial regulation (the famous Basel Committee rules) were added much later, after the existence of the bank became public when it was kept secret since its inception. [10.7]

The first problem to solve for the overhaul of the international monetary and financial system is not really the choice of a new currency. This is only a means. This is primarily to ensure price stability and the development of international trade. Otherwise, the only alternative is endless war for resources that are increasingly scarce. It is therefore necessary to separate the problem of a reference currency for international trade, from that of a reserve currency for central banks.

Global geopolitical dislocation following the 2008 crisis has cut the Gordian knot: there is no need any more to make a decision for all countries (which has blocked reform for many years [10.6]). Now BRICS countries have the initiative and willingness to move forward. This will is the key factor as we wrote: [10.9]

The global geopolitical context is characterized primarily by a tilt after reaching the tipping point: the decline of the American empire on the one hand and the rise of the multipolar initiative led by BRICS on the other. Because they are so desperately lacking in autonomy of decision and willingness, the EU and Japan find themselves buffeted by this tidal wave of history.

The choice is made for several years, international trade will be based on gold [10.3].

How will this happen in practice? Not with boats or trucks loaded with bullion, of course. As we said a “second BIS” was designed that can manage a clearing house for payments (settlements) in physical gold, especially to add to it a fundamental function to allow again international settlements for goods using “Real Bills” (a.k.a. Gold Bills), as recommended by the New Austrian School of Economics. In his work Professor Fekete described these Gold Bills as being “destined to be settled in gold coins that are made available after the ultimate consumer surrenders them in exchange for finished consumer goods upon maturity”. [10.4] Their issue is strictly limited by the orders received to buy goods. They allow increasing the money velocity without systematically using coins and without any risk of inflation. [10.1]

This is far from a simple “100% gold” standard.

Gold is the only money (gold – silver ratio must float) as everyone knew for millennia. Today most people have more or less forgotten this unique role, Western central bankers have tried for a century to put lipstick on a pig, so to speak. [10.8] By deceiving us, they deceived themselves and began to believe their own nonsense. A historical failure and on a global scale. Alas, it is a failure of the European spirit. We need to recognize it in order to find the impetus beneath our feet allowing us to arise from the depth of this graveyard by the sea. [10.2]

BRICS countries do not necessarily need the West to initiate this new settlement system. [10.5] It must be noted in this respect what it can supersede. The dollar currency and U.S. Treasury at the foundation of famous “petrodollars” are replaced by the Gold Bills that will allow buying oil for example. [11] It is the function of reference currency for international trade.
But US Treasuries have a function of income related to their mid/long term interest rate too – it is also a fatal flaw in this system. This is the second problem: the choice of the reserve currency for central banks.

The new system offers very smartly to decouple these two functions. The income function can be brought (at appropriate time) by introducing gold bonds, that is to say bonds denominated in gold weight (ie not merely an obligation backed by gold collateral denominated in fiat currency – a.k.a. gold backed bonds), with interests denominated in gold weight and whose principal is redeemable in gold weight. Again, we must have an institution for the issuance of these bonds.

Note that to start, it is not necessary to replace any national currency by gold coins. The gold bills will circulate in parallel of currencies, and user confidence in these currencies will be reflected in real time in the local price of that currency measured in mg of gold (that is to say, the inverse of the ‘price of gold’ measured in the currency, which is the usual vision that we have – a totally wrong perception because you can not measure the length of a bar with a rubber-band: you must take the opposite approach). Hence the fundamental importance of not having rigged gold markets as currently in New York and London. [12]

(Source: GoldSwitzerland.com)
(Source: GoldSwitzerland.com)
Price of one U.S. dollar in mg of pure gold since 1968 till 3/24/2014 (Sources: St Louis Fed, LBMA, Conscience-Sociale.org )
Price of one U.S. dollar in mg of pure gold since 1968 till 3/24/2014 (Sources: St Louis Fed, LBMA, Conscience-Sociale.org )

The U.S. have no way to prevent BRICS countries to launch this parallel system, a competitor of the one based on U.S. Treasury bond, and which finally obliterate their attraction.

The only remaining choice as new rules for American decision-makers (that is to say, the public state and the deep state) are the following, as they are standing with their back to the wall [12.2]:

– either to accept an open cohabitation of two parallel systems, with 100% of the players who know that the dollar system can not be competitive (very quickly one system will endure and all U.S. Treasury assets going up in smoke). Modestly this is called “asset restructuring in U.S. bonds market.” This is the path of Vienna in 1815. [12.1]

– or not to accept this open cohabitation, that is to say close the door to hide behind and build a wall as high as possible so that no one can escape from the dollar zone. For this area can last as long as possible (while being doomed because of deflation), it must be the largest possible, and the EU is a tempting (with its remaining gold reserves) and very easy prey thanks to Atlantist governments and European Commission who are obediently following the interests of the American deep state. The strategy is therefore to make them sign the TTIP as soon as possible, which quickly convinces them not repatriate their gold and abandon the euro (two currencies for the US-EU area only, is one too many) as they have already abandoned their sovereignty. This is the way of Yalta in 1945. [12.3]

The next time you meet your President or Prime Minister, you now know which good question to ask him: what did he choose for us and that is supposed to commit all?
BRICS countries are reaching out to European people since 2009, and our governments show their disdain so far, preferring the shadows of the world before. [13] But it is not too late to think about our place in Europe and in the world, it remains few short months and the ticket can be taken since this week. Hurry up or repent.

What is currently discussed off-line is however everybody’s concern, and will commit us for a long time to come. Do not suffer without understanding.

An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it. (O.A. Battista, 1917-1995)

Written by Dr. Bruno Paul


[1] ‘La crise écologique globale exige une refonte du système monétaire international’, Conscience Sociale, 01/2013; This article was itself in the continuity of the fundamental question raised in 2011: ‘How to replace the world trade reference currency’, Conscience Sociale, 06/2011

[2] a) ‘Towards a new international monetary system – part 1′, EN or FR version, Conscience Sociale, 2013; b) the first mention of this strategy can be found in the conclusion of ‘La géoéconomie des Bons du Trésor US’, Conscience Sociale , 12/2012

[3] a) ‘China, Europe Agree on Currency Deal’, TheTrumpet.com ; b) ‘China’s planned crude oil futures may be priced in yuan’, Reuters ; c) ‘India to resume paying Iran in Euros’, India Times ; d) ‘PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves’, Bloomberg ; e) ‘China’s central government has reportedly approved 12 new free trade zones, including ones in Tianjin and Guangdong’, The Diplomat ; f) ‘Harbinger: 23 countries begin setting up swap lines to bypass dollar’, The Examiner ; g) ‘FMI: La réforme de l’institution reste bloquée par Washington’, Les Echos ; h) ‘Dollar-based system is inherently unstable – The culprit is the dollar’, Financial Times ; i) ‘A Shanghaï, Pékin s’offre un laboratoire des réformes’, Le Monde ; j) ‘La banque de développement et le FMI des BRICS sont nés’, L’Express ; k) ‘Shanghai Free-trade Zone to lead on yuan reform’, South China Morning Post ; l) ‘IMF Quota and Governance Reform: Political Impulse Needed for Progress on Reform Process’, CIGI ; m) ‘South Korea, Australia ink US$ 4.5 billion currency swap agreement’, Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute ; n) ‘BRICS Bank: Caution is a good policy’, India & Russia Report ; o) ‘G20 regrets IMF reforms delay, India says can’t wait for long’, Industan Times ; p) ‘Медведев: особую экономическую зону в Крыму будет курировать Козак’, RBC Daily ; q) ‘Gold trading to open up to foreigners in Shanghai’, SCMP, 03/2014; r) ‘Russia without dollar – what are the risks?’, pravda.ru, 03/2014

[4] a) Les Brics veulent en finir avec l’extrémisme des marchés financiers’, RIA Novosti ; b) original article: ‘БРИКС положит конец рыночному фундаментализму’ RBC Daily

[5] a) R. Cohen, ‘International Politics: The Rules of the Game’, Longman Group United Kingdom, 1982 ; b) Le Président Xi déclare ainsi cette semaine: “China is firmly committed to … building a new model of major country relations”, Reuters, 03/2014

[6] Le Parisien , 03/2014

[7] The Guardian, 03/2014

[8] European Council , 24/03/2014

[8.1] Ne pas ignorer par exemple: a) ‘Did Russia Just Move Its Treasury Holdings Offshore?’, WSJ, 03/2013 ; b) ‘Emerging Markets central banks sell US government bonds’, Financial Times, 03/2014

[9] a) ‘La crise ukrainienne, un événement de la politique profonde’, Conscience Sociale, 03/2014; b) For the exact definition of ‘deep state’ see ‘La politique profonde et l’Etat profond (deep deep politics and the State), Conscience Sociale, 03/2014

[9.1] ‘Global systemic crisis-escalation in the US reaction for survival: trigger a cold war to make it easier to annex Europe’, Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin n°83, 03/2014

[9.2] ‘The Way Forward for the Brics New Development Bank ‘, All Africa , 03/2014

[10] Obama and Cameron prepared this meeting last week: whitehouse.gov , 03/2014

[10.1] Real Bills maturity is 91 days maximum.

[10.2] ‘La Crise de l’Esprit Européen‘ and ‘La conjecture de Valéry, de Paul à Paul‘, Conscience Sociale, 02/2014

[10.3] ‘Building a strong economic and financial security barrier for China – Actively build and implement national gold strategies’, In Gold We Trust, 09/2013

[10.4] a) For more details, you can read his recent announcement ‘Gold Bills Payable in Gold Sovereigns’ AE Fekete , 03/2014; b) On the distinction between Gold Bills and Real Bills: ‘Interview with Prof. Fekete’, Daily Bell, 03/2014

[10.5] The group formed by the BRICS is already sufficiently autonomous: ‘Sanctions effect: Russia to change its Economic Partners… for the better’, Russia Today , 03/2014

[10.6] ‘U.S. Dollar, Euro, Renminbi as invoicing currencies in international trade and as reserve currencies – A bibliography’, Conscience Sociale

[10.7] Founded in 1930, its existence was publicly unveiled in 1977. Note also that according to the by-laws the small territory of the BIS building is not subject to Swiss law. Police or army can not have access. See also ‘Tower of Basel: The Shadowy History of the Secret That Runs the World Bank’, Adam LeBor , PublicAffairs, 2013

[10.8] ‘Bernanke Tells Congress: I Don’t Really Understand Gold’ , Forbes , 07/2013; But they recognized themselves be burnt out: see Conscience Sociale, 08/2013

[10.9] ‘Focus’ chapter in Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin No. 83, 03/2014

[11] It should be noted in this respect that the BRICS countries have learn from the experience of purchases by India of Iranian oil using gold, through Turkish banks. This is a case of an unjust embargo imposed by the West proved to be a weakness that would lead to huge consequences. History is fond of this kind of irony. See a) WSJ , 02/2014; b) Foreign Policy , 02/2014

[12] a) ‘Sun Zhaoxue: The United States Intends To Suppress Gold To Ensure The Dollar’s Dominance’, In Gold We Trust, 01/2014 ; b) The origin of this strategy date back to distant times. See for instance: ‘Minutes of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Principals and Regionals Staff Meeting, Washington, April 25, 1974′, in FOREIGN RELATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES, 1973–1976 VOLUME XXXI, FOREIGN ECONOMIC POLICY, DOCUMENT 63 ; c) ‘La Manipulation du Prix de l’Or’, 24hgold, 09/2008 ; d) ‘Barclays, Deutsche Bank Accused of Gold Fix Manipulation’, Bloomberg, 03/2014

[12.1] ‘What the world needs is 19th century behavior’, Russia in Global Affairs, 03/2014

[12.2] ‘L’implosion du marché COMEX et la dé-américanisation du monde’, Conscience Sociale, 10/2013

[12.3] ‘L’Union européenne: la nouvelle URSS’, Vladimir Bukovsky

[13] ‘La dérive néo-conservatrice de la politique française’, Agile Democracy , 03/2014

In Gold We Trust

Gold And The Monetary System: Potential US–EU Conflict (1974)

For anyone who is still in doubt if the US have been suppressing the price of gold in the past decades, this article might change your mind. I present a memo written in 1974 by Sidney Weintraub, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development, to Paul Volcker, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs. It was originally published in Document 61, Foreign relations Of The United States, 1973–1976, Foreign Economic Policy, Volume XXXI found at the Office of the Historian website.

The memo addresses the problem of the US’ interest of banning gold from monetary system and capping the free market price (in order to push the USD as the world reserve currency – although the Americans among each other pretended they preferred the SDR for this role), while some European countries wanted to remonetize gold and revalue it market to market.

What I find fascinating is that there is anti-gold propaganda within this internal memo of the Americans. To me this illustrates how politicians operate; a proper lie must be embraced completely and the more often it’s repeated, the stronger it holds.

A long well worth read. Apart from the bold accents by me, this is an exact copy of the original.

61. Note From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Finance and Development ( Weintraub ) to the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Monetary Affairs ( Volcker )(1)

Washington, March 6, 1974.


This is a paper which we prepared for Secretary Kissinger giving some of our views on the gold question. We discussed it at a meeting for his background, (2) without attempting to reach any conclusions. We would appreciate any reactions you have to the paper. The Secretary said he would most appreciate meeting with you and anybody else you wish to designate in about two weeks to talk out the issue and what might be done, using a revised options paper for this purpose.
One option that is not included in the paper, but which should be for various reasons, is how to deal with thwarting the Europeans if they were to go ahead without us in a way which we felt was inimical to our interests.


Attachment (3)



The Foreign Policy Context

Within the next few months the long-standing U.S.-European dispute on the role of gold will probably be propelled from the back room to the main stage of our relationship. The stakes in this dispute are high, involving the long-run stability of the international monetary system and prospects for increased dissension within Europe and between Europe and the U.S.

The Problem

U.S. objectives for the world monetary system—a durable, stable system, with the SDR as a strong reserve asset at its center—are incompatible with a continued important role for gold as a reserve asset. These objectives are in apparent conflict with the EC desire to facilitate the use of gold in international transactions. There is a belief among certain Europeans that a higher price of gold for settlement purposes would facilitate financing of oil imports, although the argument depends on assumptions regarding producers’ attitude towards gold as an asset which may not be valid. Adamant U.S. insistence on maintaining the present fixed official price is likely to create international conflict with the EC, and may also lead to unilateral EC arrangements which would defeat our aims for the system.

The Conclusion

The U.S. objectives are important, and should not be given up, but they may be achievable without rigid adherence to the present fixed official gold price. Compromise proposals exist which would make adequate progress towards our objectives for the system while meeting principal EC needs. Since the EC is likely to set forth its proposals before the C–20 winds up its existence this summer, a U.S. position will be needed within the next several months. Tactically, it may also be preferable to discuss possible compromise proposals with one or more EC members before we are confronted with an EC position.

Pressures are building within the EC for settlement of intra-EC balances with gold valued at the market price (or some other price substantially higher than the current official price of $42.20 per troy ounce). Unilateral EC action in this direction would run directly counter to the stated United States position on international gold policy. The EC reportedly will try to avoid a direct conflict through pressing for rapid resolution of the problem within the framework of the multilateral monetary reform negotiations. Therefore, the U.S. position needs to be re-examined in light of present circumstances. This memorandum examines the foundations of this potential U.S.–EC conflict on the gold question, and considers which negotiating positions among various options would best serve U.S. interests.

Gold in the International Monetary System — The Issues

Agreementhas been reached in the C–20 monetary reform negotiations that the SDR should take the place once held by gold at the center of the world monetary system. However, there is still substantial disagreement on what the exact future role of gold should be—whether it eventually ought to be phased out of the system (the U.S. view) or retain an important function as a reserve asset and means of international settlement (the position of some European countries).

U.S. interests in this question are in the establishment of stable, durable world monetary system, based on a strong SDR, which would avoid future monetary crises and conflict, such as those that have plagued the Bretton Woods system in recent years. In our view a system which included gold as a major reserve asset alongside SDRs would be inherently unstable, just as bimetallism was in the U.S.

This inherent instability stems from the fact that gold is traded as a commodity on a private market at a variable price subject to the vagaries of world production (largely Soviet and South African) and sales, and of demands by hoarders and speculators. With a fluctuating, and generally rising, free market for gold, a permanently fixed official price is simply not credible, and becomes less so as the gap between private and official prices widens. If, however, the price at which official transactions in gold are made were to be periodically adjusted to the market price, then an unstable situation would rise as between gold and SDRs.

At the present time, the value of the SDR is fixed in terms of gold. However, it has been generally agreed in the C–20 that the new SDR should not be related to gold, but rather to a basket of currencies. In this case, a changing price at which official gold transactions take place would create capital gains (or losses) for gold holders as compared to SDR holders, stimulate speculative central bank demand for gold, and weaken the SDR. (4)

It is the U.S. concern that any substantial increase now in the price at which official gold transactions are made would strengthen the position of gold in the system, and cripple the SDR. If international liquidity were injected via gold, there would be little likelihood of new SDR allocations.(5) There also would be reduced incentive to sell gold on the private market even after an official price increase since central banks would cling to their gold in expectation of further official gold price increases. In addition, too large an increase in world liquidity might add to inflationary dangers. Finally, the distribution of the increase in world reserves would be highly inequitable, with eight wealthy countries getting three-fourths, while the developing countries would get less than 10 percent (see attached table). Producing countries (the USSR and South Africa) would benefit from the implicit floor put under the free-market gold price.

To encourage and facilitate the eventual demonetization of gold, our position is to keep the present gold price, maintain the present Bretton Woods agreement ban against official gold purchases at above the official price (6) and encourage the gradual disposition of monetary gold through sales in the private market. An alternative route to demonetization could involve a substitution of SDRs for gold with the IMF, with the latter selling the gold gradually on the private market, and allocating the profits on such sales either to the original gold holders, or by other agreement.

European views on the role of gold in the world monetary system vary considerably. The British and Germans, on one hand, generally agree in principle to the desirability of phasing gold out of the system. On the other end of the spectrum, the French have been the main proponents of a continued important role for gold in the system.

Support for a continued role for gold in the system is based in large part on the belief that “paper gold”—the SDR—does not command sufficient confidence and acceptability to replace gold completely in the system. There is, in fact, still a considerable emotional attachment to gold as a monetary asset, and a basic distrust of bank or paper money not having intrinsic value. On the other hand, most European officials recognize the basic problems involved in a combined SDR–gold reserve asset system. Belgian Finance Minister De Clerq, (7) for example, speaking at the IMF annual meetings in September stated:
Any redefinition of the role of gold must be based on the principle stated above: that SDR must become the center of the system and that there can be no question of introducing a new form of gold– paper and gold–metal bimetallism, in which the SDR and gold would be in competition.

Despite these differencesamong member countries, the EC position has begun to coalesce around their desire to free gold for use in settling intra-EC debts—a problem raised by the present “immobilization” of gold which has resulted from the wide disparity between the official and free market gold prices. Monetary authorities have been unwilling to use their gold holdings to settle official debts at a price far below the free market price. This has been a problem particularly for the EC, whose rules under the “snake” arrangement require that final settlement of debts arising out of intervention to support intra-EC exchange rates must be made in reserve assets in proportion to the composition of reserve holdings. (This “immobility” is, of course, an example of the difficulties inherent in a system in which gold retains a reserve currency role alongside another reserve asset.)

To some extent, the immobility of gold reserves as a means of payment is a result of self-imposed restraints. Countries are free to use reserve currencies and SDRs to settle debts. Moreover, countries are now free to obtain additional currencies (and realize substantial capital gains) through sales of gold to the private market. The EC problem is a result of their particular rules for settlement, which reflect the interest of creditor countries in receiving gold and applying discipline to deficit countries. It is also a result of their reluctance, so far, to sell gold on the private market. The reasons for this reluctance are probably related to the unsettled status of gold in the system, the basic attraction of gold, the expectation of future price increases, and the “thinness” of the private gold market.

Nor is it clear that European countries would give up gold even after a price increase, since one increase may lead to an expectation of further increases. Even under the Bretton Woods system, the Europeans did not often give up gold to settle deficits.
The “immobility” problem is of particular concern to the French and Italians, who have substantial outstanding EC debts and especially high proportions of their reserve assets in gold. Recently, with the private price continuing to rise, and final decisions on monetary reform apparently further off than previously thought, otherEC countries are coming around to the French-Italian view that this problem must be resolved. However,the Germans and British, in particular, are concerned that the solution be accomplished in a way which would not antagonize the United States. They wish to settle this issue in the C–20 multilateral context, if possible. Failing agreement there, the EC might feel free to unilaterally make some regional arrangement.

Various European proposals have been made to deal with the gold issue. The basic French proposal in the C–20 was simply to increase the official price of gold although this may have been made with tongue in cheek and received no support other than from South Africa. Other European proposals, and the stated French fallback position, have been variations on the idea that the official price of gold be abolished, leaving the SDR as the sole numeraire of the system, and that monetary authorities be free to deal at a negotiated price, or at a price related (perhaps at a discount) to the private market price. In the version reportedly recently proposed to the EC by the UK, such an arrangement would be combined with coordinated central bank sales to the private market. Another possibility reportedly being considered is to have the Italians, who have the greatest need, sell gold on the private market by themselves to avoid unduly depressing the market. The French version of this proposal would allow central banks either to buy or sell gold on the private market (obviously in order to avoid depressing the private market and to keep or augment the role of gold in the system).

In lieu of a general agreement permitting official transactions in gold at a price higher than the official price, some EC countries have proposed special arrangements to deal only with the intra-EC problem. Such proposals have heretofore been shelved by a combination of technical problems, and an unwillingness to take unilateral action of doubtful legality and offensive to the United States. Most recently, the EC Commission has proposed a system which would in effect set a higher provisional price, to be corrected when agreement is reached on a new price for gold.

Both the European C–20 proposal and the intra-EC proposals would fall short of a generalized increase in the official price of gold. However, each would amount to a generalized de facto, if not de jure, (8) official price increase, and strengthen the role of gold in the system. A system of sales, but no purchases, to the private market would mitigate this tendency.

The recent oil price increases have added a new dimension to the gold issue, and in the view of some European officials, relegated the intra-EC problem to a secondary position. Although mobilization of gold for intra-EC settlement would help in the financing of imbalances among EC countries, it would not, of itself, provide resources for the financing of the anticipated deficit with the oil producers. For this purpose, it would be useful if the oil producers would invest some of their excess revenues in gold purchases from deficit EC countries at close to a market price. This would be an attractive proposal for European countries, and for the U.S., in that it would not involve future interest burdens and would avoid immediate problems arising from increased Arab ownership of European and American industry. (The Arabs could both sell the gold and use the proceeds for direct investment, so that the industry ownership problem would not be completely solved.) From the Arab point of view such an asset would have the advantages of being protected from exchange-rate changes and inflation, and subject to absolute national control. Some European officials are thinking in terms of clearing the way for such transactions (which would now be forbidden by IMF rules). It has been argued that Arabs would only be interested in buying gold at near the market price if they could obtain assurances of some sort of floor price . We have received word that such a proposal is being floated within the German Government.

From the standpoint of international liquidity needs, a reasonable case can now be made for a generalized gold price increase, since the probable payments patterns stemming from the higher oil prices (overall deficits for Europe and Japan) may lead to a reduction in world reserve liquidity. However, from the U.S. viewpoint (as well as many countries without large gold holdings) substantial new SDR allocations would be preferable when new liquidity creation is needed.

Options for U.S. Negotiating Policy on Gold

Since the U.S. is likely to be presented with pressure to acquiesce in some arrangements to meet the European objectives sketched out above, it is important that we reconsider what our own negotiating posture should be.

At either end of the spectrum of possible negotiating positions are the following:

Option 1:Continue adamant opposition to any proposal involving an increase in price at which monetary authorities carry out transactions in gold. Advantages: If successful, we will keep gold from regaining strength as an international reserve asset, maintain the strength of the SDR, and probably eventually obtain the demonetization of gold and a more rational, stable international monetary system. Disadvantages: The EC may then go ahead with its own arrangements which would amount to a virtual de facto increase in the official gold price, with undesirable effects on the world monetary system and lead to increased U.S.–EC conflict and bitterness. 

Option 2: Acquiesce in a European-type plan involving abolition of the official price, permitting settlement of official balances at a negotiated price, with a “sales only” rule for transactions in the private market. Advantages: This would be somewhat preferable to a plan involving an outright increase in the official price, and would maintain an avenue for demonetization through one-way sales to the private market. The SDR would become the sole numeraire of the system. In the short run, tensions with Europe over monetary issues would be reduced. The increase in de facto liquidity might be helpful in present circumstances, and gold sales to the Arabs might help finance western balance of payments deficits. Disadvantages: This has most of the disadvantages discussed above of (and may in fact lead to) an outright increase in the official price of gold. We may thereby lose the opportunity to build a stable and rational world monetary system, with adverse long-term consequences involving monetary instability and conflict. The disadvantages to each of these options are such that a search for additional options is justified. Intermediate options do exist which have the potential of meeting EC objectives of mobilizing gold in the short run, while maintaining the desirable trend towards gold demonetization.

Option 3: Complete short-term demonetization of gold through an IMF substitution facility. Countries could give up their gold holdings to the IMF in exchange for SDRs. The gold could then be sold gradually, over time, by the IMF to the private market. Profits from the gold sales could be distributed in part to the original holders of the gold, allowing them to realize at least part of the capital gains, while part of the profits could be utilized for other purposes, such as aid to LDCs. Advantages: This would achieve our goal of demonetization and relieve the problem of gold immobility, since the SDRs received in exchange could be used for settlement with no fear of foregoing capital gains. (9) Disadvantages: This might be a more rapid demonetization than several countries would accept. There would be no benefit from the viewpoint of financing oil imports with gold sales to Arabs (although it is not necessarily incompatible with such an arrangement). The only important disadvantage of option 3 would be its likely unacceptability to countries who would prefer to cling to gold for traditional reasons. But it would show our sensitivity to the immobility problem, and be a good initial bargaining position. We might, in the end, have to fall back on a fourth option:

Option 4:Accept a European-type arrangement in which the official gold price was abolished, and official transactions at a market-related price were permitted, but with agreement that a certain portion of gold be given up to an IMF substitution facility, and that gradual further substitution of SDRs for gold would take place over a longer period of time. One possible rule among many could be that countries should keep the nominal value of their gold holdings fixed at present levels with any increases in value coming from price increases offset by substitutions. Another variant on this proposal would have countries agree to pre-determined, gradual direct sales to the private market. Again, profits could be shared between gold holders and others. Advantages: This would provide adequate momentum towards gold demonetization while providing relief to gold immobility problems. It seems somewhat more compatible with gold sales to the Arabs, if this is desirable. It may be negotiable. Disadvantages: It is somewhat less desirable for the medium-term workings of the system than option 3.


The U.S. objectives in reducing the role of gold in the world monetary system are worthwhile, but they may be achievable without insisting on adherence to the present fixed official price of gold. Moreover, such a stand might unnecessarily create international friction. Compromise proposals exist which have good prospects for achieving our objectives for the system while meeting the principal EC requirements. We should be prepared to use these compromises in the near future.


Negotiation in a broader IMF forum is likely to be a very divisive and contentious process unless based on a prior U.S.-European understanding. The Europeans, however, are not united, although working on a common substantive position. We could wait for this position to develop further or proceed now with bilateral contacts with one or more EC members. Our waiting to be confronted with the EC position puts the French in a strong position through their veto over any departure from the agreed EC line. The gold issue would be an appropriate one to pursue in bilateral contacts with the Germans and British, both of whom could probably agree to options involving more modest flex in our traditional position than the French or Italians want. But there is, of course, no guarantee that the British and/or Germans could carry the resulting compromise in Brussels. Nevertheless, working out a compromise with some of the major Europeans could reduce the prospects for a U.S.–EC standoff, while leaving a substantial intra-EC disagreement to be bridged by the Europeans.

(1) Source: National Archives, RG 56, Office of the Under Secretary of the Treasury, Files of Under Secretary Volcker, 1969–1974, Accession 56–79–15, Box 1, Gold—8/15/71–2/9/72. No classification marking. A stamped notation on the note reads: “Noted by Mr. Volcker.” Another notation, dated March 8, indicates that copies were sent to Bennett and Cross.
(2) The paper was discussed with Kissinger at a Department of State staff meeting on March 6. The summary attached to the front page of the meeting’s minutes notes that Kissinger decided: “That a small State–Treasury group, to include Volcker be assembled to refine the choices in theEB paper and report back in two weeks. The revised paper should include the options of possible unilateral EC action vis-à-vis gold prices and in relation to oil import costs as well as US responses to abort or penalize such action (EB action).” (Ibid., RG 59, Transcripts of Secretary of StateKissinger’s Staff Meetings, 1973–1977, Entry 5177, Box 2, Secretary’s Staff Meeting, March 6, 1974)
(3) Confidential.
(4) If a fixed SDR–gold price were to be maintained, and periodic free-market related adjustments in the official prices of gold were to be made, then the currency value of the world’s primary reserve assets would be tied to a price set on a volatile, unstable market. [Footnote is in the original.]
(5) As can be seen from the table at the end of this memorandum, official gold reserves are now valued at $43 billion at the $42.20 per ounce price. The free market price is almost four times the official price. [Footnote is in the original. The table is attached but not printed.]
(6) The French have stated that they do not consider the IMF Articles as binding under present circumstances (the U.S. having suspended its convertibility obligation). We consider the Articles still binding. Other countries have not yet taken a position. [Footnote is in the original.]
(7) Willy de Clercq was the Belgian Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister.
(8) Under the present IMF Articles of Agreement, a generalized gold price increase (uniform par value change) would require approval of countries representing 85% of the IMF weighted voting power. Thus we have the power to block any legal change. [Footnote is in the original.]
(9) The additional SDRs might be quite acceptable since, for a time at least, they would be “backed” by IMF gold holdings. Some gold “backing” could be maintained until prejudices against paper money waned—in a manner similar to the evolution of domestic monies. [Footnote is in the original.]