The news media and the 24-hour news cycle have a great deal to answer for, not least encouraging a political class which would otherwise be happily engaged expensing duck houses into the belief that it should demonstrate perpetual action on our behalf – hence the endless stream of badly drafted legislation from the corridors of Whitehall. It does, however, reveal things that would otherwise be ignored. The issue of manipulation in the gold market which I wrote about last week is a case in point. The ball of half-truths and downright lies which have surrounded the issue for a long time is beginning to unspool in an issue internet activists kept alive long before it was acknowledged by the mainstream media.
People ask why the issue is important at a time of naked market manipulation of the Libor rate. The answer is simple: the Libor manipulation scandal can be seen as the thin end of the wedge in terms of government market manipulation. Although Libor manipulation affects the interest rates we pay on all number of credit products, gold market manipulation is more serious still. The price of gold is traditionally a proxy for the value of money. A soaring bullion price is indicative of a lack of faith in fiat currency.
Our financial system is predicated on the notion that money stands as a proxy for the factors of production – capital, labour, land and enterprise. In short, the abundance of money in the economy should be related to the abundance of those factors. The harder we work, for instance, the more we create. There is more labour in the economy, therefore a rise in the money supply is legitimate in order to mirror this. There is nothing wrong with printing money per se so long as the printing reflects an expansion in the real economy. Twentieth and Twenty-First century economics appears to have done away with this. Money is now created ex nihilo to feed both the top and bottom ends of society.