Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) appeared on Fox Business News yesterday to talk about the nation’s money and a return to the gold standard in the unlikely event that he’s elected president.
His discussion of the U.S. dollar throughout American history reminded me of a Wall Street Journal book review yesterday by James Grant that, from what I could tell, was a lot better than the book – Greenback Planet by H.W. Brands. From the book review:
“Greenback Planet” is the story of this amazing monetary transformation. The narrative begins in the 18th century and races to the present, pausing to catch its breath at some of the great American monetary landmarks: Andrew Jackson’s veto, in 1832, of legislation rechartering a predecessor to the Federal Reserve; Abraham Lincoln’s recourse to greenbacks, or fiat currency, to finance the Civil War; resumption of the gold standard in 1879, with which it once more became possible to exchange gold for paper and vice-versa at a fixed and statutory rate; J.P. Morgan quelling the Panic of 1907; the Federal Reserve not quelling, never mind preventing, the Great Depression; the crazy-quilt monetary improvisations of the 1930s; the halfway gold dollar of the post-World War II era; and the creation, in 1971, of the pure paper (later digital) model of today.
Mr. Brands is a paper-money man, though the subtitle of his book—”How the Dollar Conquered the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It”—seems to betray some reservations.