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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

U.S. Dollar is living in an Alternative Financial Reality

The greenback is a glorious old brand that's looking more and more like General Motors.The Coinage Act of 1792 affirmed the dollar as the U.S. currency unit and specified that each was to equal the value of the Spanish milled dollar and was to contain 371 4/16 grains of pure, or 416 grains of standard, silver. The problem today is that the greenback is a glorious old brand that's looking more and more like General Motors.

James Grant / Wall Street Journal:
Requiem for the Dollar -- Ben S. Bernanke doesn't know how lucky he is. Tongue-lashings from Bernie Sanders, the populist senator from Vermont, are one thing. The hangman's noose is another. Section 19 of this country's founding monetary legislation, the Coinage Act of 1792, prescribed the death penalty for any official who fraudulently debased the people's money. Was the massive printing of dollar bills to lift Wall Street (and the rest of us, too) off the rocks last year a kind of fraud? If the U.S. Senate so determines, it may send Mr. Bernanke back home to Princeton. But not even Ron Paul, the Texas Republican sponsor of a bill to subject the Fed to periodic congressional audits, is calling for the Federal Reserve chairman's head.

I wonder, though, just how far we have really come in the past 200-odd years. To give modernity its due, the dollar has cut a swath in the world. There's no greater success story in the long history of money than the common greenback. Of no intrinsic value, collateralized by nothing, it passes from hand to trusting hand the world over. More than half of the $923 billion's worth of currency in circulation is in the possession of foreigners...

The greenback is a glorious old brand that's looking more and more like General Motors...

There's one more thing: Return to the statute books Section 19 of the 1792 Coinage Act, but substitute life behind bars for the death penalty. It's the 21st century, you know.

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