Megan McArdle, a smart journalist, is dead wrong in arguing that the moral of the Greek story is bad for gold. The reason for Greece’s troubles is the failure of the global fiat money regime that McArdle supports as the remedy.
With nearly meaningless money, all economies will eventually slump and stagnate and marginal ones will collapse. All enterprise depends on the guidance of reliable money.
Money must serve as a measuring stick for enterprise, not as a magic wand for governments. Central banks waving magic wands stultify commerce by reducing most of it to currency speculation and arbitrage. With $5.4 trillion a day of currency trading—for a metric more volatile than the economic activity it supposedly measures–we are already there. A stultified global economy can no longer provide enough jobs or wealth to sustain beachfront outliers like Greece.
That’s the problem of Europe, not a failure of the Germans to inflate enough Euros or find enough greater fools to buy Greek bonds—not the refusal of the Greek government to impose austerity on itself (austerity in Europe means higher taxes to support government waste). We are rapidly approaching the moment when the only recognizable monetary element will be gold and its cryptographic cousins, with value based on the time it takes to extract it. Time is the ultimate irreversible measure of monetary value.
Zeroing out the time value of money in interest rates, the central banks of the world are waging a war against time. Greece is only the first victim.
George Gilder is a bestselling writer and author of, most recently, The 21st Century Case for Gold: A New Information Theory of Money.