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American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle over Gold

GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
edited February 27, 2023 8:40PM in Precious Metals

If you are a collector of gold coins...or are just interested in their history (especially Saint-Gaudens DEs)....or are a lover of history....student of economic or monetary policies.....conspiracy theorist :) .....then this book is for you.

I came across it while reading about the case of the 1933 Double Eagles and the law at that time (early-1933). This book goes into the personalities (FDR, the Supreme Court), the law, the policies, the debates, etc. It focuses on the consolidated 4 cases known as the Gold Clause Cases, which asked if the government could abrogate the clauses in bond indentures requiring payment in gold coin (or gold value) to protect against inflation and/or devaluation of the dollar. It's a fascinating case and alot closer than most realize (mostly 5-4 decisions).

An excellent review of the book which touches upon the political and legal issues is here:

https://eh.net/book_reviews/american-default-the-untold-story-of-fdr-the-supreme-court-and-the-battle-over-gold/

Without history turning out the way it did, the government may not have been able to force compulsory sales of gold from the American people....the 1933 DEs might have been released....and even 1934, 1935, and later years would have seen mintages.

Comments

  • GoldminersGoldminers Posts: 3,558 ✭✭✭✭✭

    An interesting read. I was following along OK until I hit this quote by the summary author.

    "The unsustainable federal debt is not an accident. It was consciously created by Republican politicians to justify reducing (or eliminating) future federal entitlements."

    It was then that I realized this summary was published in 2018, and political. The massive increase in debt since 2018, for Covid relief and vote buying has been from both political parties. That, combined with ZIRP by the Federal Reserve provided politicians with the idea that money is "free", so Congress borrowed excessively for all kinds of programs believing in MMT as a panacea.

    Inflation is the result. The positive aspect of the article is that maybe the government will continue to let us buy and hold gold, even if the currency and banking systems are no longer directly connected to it.

  • PerryHallPerryHall Posts: 45,188 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Goldminers said:
    An interesting read. I was following along OK until I hit this quote by the summary author.

    "The unsustainable federal debt is not an accident. It was consciously created by Republican politicians to justify reducing (or eliminating) future federal entitlements."

    When I saw that, the whole article lost any credibility.

    Worry is the interest you pay on a debt you may not owe.

  • GoldminersGoldminers Posts: 3,558 ✭✭✭✭✭

    To be fair, the actual book and history is probably not all that bad.

    It is the review of the book by Gary Richardson, Department of Economics, University of California at Irvine that is politically biased.

  • rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    That phrase turned me off completely. May go back and look some more... but now seems tainted. Cheers, RickO

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    @Goldminers said:
    An interesting read. I was following along OK until I hit this quote by the summary author.

    "The unsustainable federal debt is not an accident. It was consciously created by Republican politicians to justify reducing (or eliminating) future federal entitlements."
    It was then that I realized this summary was published in 2018, and political. The massive increase in debt since 2018, for Covid relief and vote buying has been from both political parties. That, combined with ZIRP by the Federal Reserve provided politicians with the idea that money is "free", so Congress borrowed excessively for all kinds of programs believing in MMT as a panacea.

    Inflation is the result. The positive aspect of the article is that maybe the government will continue to let us buy and hold gold, even if the currency and banking systems are no longer directly connected to it.

    I'm very sensitive to political bias but I think that the author (not the reviewer) plays it straight down the middle. I just started the book but he definitely has an opinion on the actual abrogation of the gold clauses and you can tell from the title of the book: DEFAULT. :)

    Author relies heavily on Milton Friedman and Anna Schwart's A MONETARY HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, a classic monetarist bible. Edwards (the author) also mentions in the preface that he spoke to both Friedman and Schwartz when they were still alive; he served on a council with Friedman at the behest of then-Governor Schwarzenegger.

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 28, 2023 8:50AM

    @Goldminers said:
    To be fair, the actual book and history is probably not all that bad.

    It is the review of the book by Gary Richardson, Department of Economics, University of California at Irvine that is politically biased.

    Actually, aside from that one line -- which is really more polemical than factually true or false -- the review is very good. Richardson DOES disagree with Edwards on the technical case of default.

    Richardson also has some good writings over on the Federal Reserve's historical pages as he mentions in the book review. Some interesting photos, commentary, and historical facts on that time period.

    Here's one by a colleague of his on The Great Inflation:

    https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/great-inflation

    This was fascinating by Richardson...the Cleveland Fed dealing with dentists !! :)

    https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/gold-reserve-act

  • HigashiyamaHigashiyama Posts: 2,131 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @GoldFinger1969: thanks for the two links; excellent articles! I think the Michael Bryan article on the Great Inflation is particularly impressive -- he's summarized some complex and important economic/financial history is a remarkably succinct and cogent manner.

    With regard to the Richardson article on the Gold Reserve Act of 1934, though I don't want to whip up too much antigovernment sentiment, it's perhaps worth pointing out an historical detail that Richardson sidesteps in his article (though I guess he is alluding to it in the paragraph on Section X): while the Gold Reserve Act fixed the price of gold at $ 35, FDR paid only $ 20.67 when he confiscated our gold roughly nine months earlier. :o

    Higashiyama
  • cohodkcohodk Posts: 18,493 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Does todays FED have a more daunting task of controlling inflation than that of the 70s/80s due to the unconstrained fiscal policies enacted by Congress?

    Excuses are tools of the ignorant

    Knowledge is the enemy of fear

  • HigashiyamaHigashiyama Posts: 2,131 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @cohodk asked “Does todays FED have a more daunting task of controlling inflation than that of the 70s/80s due to the unconstrained fiscal policies enacted by Congress?”

    Great question, and I think the answer is basically “no” for the time being; I’m happy to outline my reasoning shortly; I look forward to hearing others’ thoughts.

    Higashiyama
  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    @cohodk said:

    Does todays FED have a more daunting task of controlling inflation than that of the 70s/80s due to the >unconstrained fiscal policies enacted by Congress?

    No, because fiscal policy is just one lever that moves inflation.

    Demographics....energy shocks.....global labor supply....these are all more important than fiscal policy per se. They are all now beginning to REVERSE to a pro-inflationary outlook which means the Fed today has a tougher job than in decades.

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    Some interesting tidbits from American Default ; I've made it through a few chapters so far:

    • FDR while campaigning in the final weeks of the 1932 campaign...was cagey and deceptive and objected when attacked as being a "devaulationist" or willing to tinker with the value of gold. While he did not offer any outright hard policy prescriptions or promises or red lines, he did cover his you-know-what by saying he had no plans to do what the Hoover campaign attacked him on. Of course, once in office he did a 180.

    • Once FDR was elected but before sworn-in, lame-duck Hoover tried to coordinate policies with the incoming FDR team to stop bank failures, currency and gold drain, etc. But FDR wouldn't commit to anything so Hoover's hands were tied. FDR's team really didn't look good as they ended up doing pretty much what the Hoover folks were saying they could have done weeks or months sooner.

    • A week after the Emergency Banking Act was passed by FDR during his first days, the government sold $800 MM in Treasuries....WITH the gold clause they were eliminating elsewhere ! :o .

    • After the EBA was passed, gold holdings continued to decline. By mid-March it was estimated that about $1 BB was being hoarded in gold coins, gold certificates, and currency. They fell $188 MM in 3 weeks from the time of the EBA.

    • On March 3rd, 1933.....the FRB NY lost $250 MM in gold and $150 MM in currency and fell below the 40% backing of currency with gold ($250 MM short of the target).

  • TwoSides2aCoinTwoSides2aCoin Posts: 43,749 ✭✭✭✭✭

    He who controls the money, controls the people. Gold got in the way of that over 100 years ago. The bankers had to do something about that. Saddle the treasury with debt. Great plan.

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    @TwoSides2aCoin said:
    He who controls the money, controls the people. Gold got in the way of that over 100 years ago. The bankers had to do something about that. Saddle the treasury with debt. Great plan.

    Not the bankers, the politicians -- FDR and his crew. The Treasury promoted this stuff and they helped rape the Federal Reserve banks.

  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 22,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Not the bankers, the politicians

    The bankers AND the politicians. Both are complicit. The bankers on every level create debt out of thin air and then collect interest on it. No reserve requirement. Uncontrolled money creation & spending on what? Strange days.

    Q: Are You Printing Money? Bernanke: Not Literally

    I knew it would happen.
  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 9, 2023 5:20PM

    @jmski52 said:
    Not the bankers, the politicians

    The bankers AND the politicians. Both are complicit. The bankers on every level create debt out of thin air and then collect interest on it. No reserve requirement. Uncontrolled money creation & spending on what? Strange days.

    That's not what happens. If what you said were true, Gross Margins and Net Interest Margins for banks would be much much higher. You are repeating political hyperbole by charlatans selling PMs or other investment products that quite frankly couldn't read a balance sheet, an income statement, or a statement of cash flows if their life depended on it.

    Did you see what happened to SIVB today ? Think they can create debt out of thin air ? Maybe you should call the CEO who lost 65% of his $25 MM in stock today along with diluting the hell out of the shareholders. Tell him you have an easy way to "create debt of of thin air...collect interest on it...with no reserve requirement......uncontrolled money creation" :)

    Go for it !!! o:)

  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 22,263 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 9, 2023 6:49PM

    Nobody's borrowing which is why their margins suck. You never explained why the reserve requirements are ZERO. How does THAT work?

    Just like 2008, there is no accountability in the banking system. I'm sure that they'll have their bought politicians in Congress and the FASAB change the rules again if they can't make it under the current paradigm.

    Q: Are You Printing Money? Bernanke: Not Literally

    I knew it would happen.
  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 9, 2023 10:09PM

    @jmski52 said:
    Nobody's borrowing which is why their margins suck. You never explained why the reserve requirements are ZERO. How does THAT work?

    Just like 2008, there is no accountability in the banking system. I'm sure that they'll have their bought politicians in Congress and the FASAB change the rules again if they can't make it under the current paradigm.

    No, margins suck because the yield curve is inverted and the Cost of Funds (COF) has risen.

    Reserve Requirements are NOT zero -- we have risk-based capital under Basel III that has various reserve needs.

    It's F-A-S-B....FASB :) .....if you are talking about mark-to-mark accounting, since the assets had no credit risk at maturity, suspending the rule for everyone was not necessarily unfair.

    2008 was about leverage, credit risk, and systemic risk.

  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 22,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    FASAB - Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. :)

    The banks got special treatment when their managements should have all been fired. Can't sugar-coat it.

    Q: Are You Printing Money? Bernanke: Not Literally

    I knew it would happen.
  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @GoldFinger1969 said:

    @TwoSides2aCoin said:
    He who controls the money, controls the people. Gold got in the way of that over 100 years ago. The bankers had to do something about that. Saddle the treasury with debt. Great plan.

    Not the bankers, the politicians -- FDR and his crew. The Treasury promoted this stuff and they helped rape the Federal Reserve banks.

    @GoldFinger1969 said:

    @TwoSides2aCoin said:
    He who controls the money, controls the people. Gold got in the way of that over 100 years ago. The bankers had to do something about that. Saddle the treasury with debt. Great plan.

    Not the bankers, the politicians -- FDR and his crew. The Treasury promoted this stuff and they helped rape the Federal Reserve banks.

    The US Treasury " raped" the Federal Reserve ?
    I couldn't disagree more with that statement.

    Roosevelt did some terrible things. One of the worst was to let the Federal Reserve steal the nation's gold reserves.
    When Roosevelt confiscated gold from the American public and negated the gold clause on bonds and currency , it was done so as a bailout of the Federal Reserve.

    In 1933, the United States Treasury held 6,000 metric tons of gold.
    During the 20-year period leading up to 1933, the US Treasury issued Gold Certificates in the amount of 16,000 metric tons worth. During this same period, the Federal Reserve Banks issued "Federal Reserve Notes" that stated on them that they were redeemable in gold on demand. These Federal Reserve Notes amounted to 56,000 metric tons of gold. But the Federal Reserve had none.

    When Roosevelt confiscated gold and recalled the US Treasury Gold Certificates, those Gold Certificated were traded to the Federal Reserve Bank in exchange for new Federal Reserve Notes of Series 1934 that were not redeemable in gold. This action essentially turned over title to the nation's gold reserves to the banking cartel that is the Federal Reserve.

    Here are the details:
    moonlightmint.com/bailout.htm

    .

  • jmski52jmski52 Posts: 22,263 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The Treasury promoted this stuff and they helped rape the Federal Reserve banks.

    Perhaps you should read, "The Creature from Jekyll Island" for a much better understanding.

    Q: Are You Printing Money? Bernanke: Not Literally

    I knew it would happen.
  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 11, 2023 10:34PM

    @dcarr said:
    When Roosevelt confiscated gold and recalled the US Treasury Gold Certificates, those Gold Certificated were traded to the Federal Reserve Bank in exchange for new Federal Reserve Notes of Series 1934 that were not redeemable in gold. This action essentially turned over title to the nation's gold reserves to the banking cartel that is the Federal Reserve.

    The FRB is not a "banking cartel" and their leaders largely OPPOSED the actions of FDR and the Treasury, led by William Woodin (a coin collector who allegedly had several 1933 Double Eagles).

    Yes, the U.S. had 40% of the world's gold. There was no reason to confiscate gold from private hands and certainly one could devalue without seizing gold. The % backing of certificates and the money supply was irrelevant, it was the BOND that mattered (hence the book's focus on the Gold Clauses for $120 billion in bond debt).

    18 years later, the Fed got revenge on the Treasury and the government in the Treasury-Fed Accord of 1951:

    https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/treasury-fed-accord

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    @jmski52 said:
    FASAB - Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board. :)

    The banks got special treatment when their managements should have all been fired. Can't sugar-coat it.

    Why should they all have been fired ? Most did a good job of not engaging in reckless management. Did you see how many banks failed in 2008-09 compared to the 1980's S&L Crisis or the Depression ?

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    @jmski52 said:
    The Treasury promoted this stuff and they helped rape the Federal Reserve banks.

    Perhaps you should read, "The Creature from Jekyll Island" for a much better understanding.

    I read it before it was a book. He's a smart guy but has no rationale solutions for a modern global economy.

    I was a Fed Watcher in the 1980's -- that provides alot more knowledge than any book. :)

  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @GoldFinger1969 said:

    @dcarr said:
    When Roosevelt confiscated gold and recalled the US Treasury Gold Certificates, those Gold Certificated were traded to the Federal Reserve Bank in exchange for new Federal Reserve Notes of Series 1934 that were not redeemable in gold. This action essentially turned over title to the nation's gold reserves to the banking cartel that is the Federal Reserve.

    The FRB is not a "banking cartel" and their leaders largely OPPOSED the actions of FDR and the Treasury, led by William Woodin (a coin collector who allegedly had several 1933 Double Eagles).

    Yes, the U.S. had 40% of the world's gold. There was no reason to confiscate gold from private hands and certainly one could devalue without seizing gold. The % backing of certificates and the money supply was irrelevant, it was the BOND that mattered (hence the book's focus on the Gold Clauses for $120 billion in bond debt).

    18 years later, the Fed got revenge on the Treasury and the government in the Treasury-Fed Accord of 1951:

    https://www.federalreservehistory.org/essays/treasury-fed-accord

    FDR handed over title to all the nation's gold reserves, which were owned by the people, to the Federal Reserve.

    By statute, the Federal Reserve remits 94% of their profits to the US Treasury. The remaining 6% is still a huge amount.
    Whose pockets does that profit go to ?

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    @dcarr said:
    FDR handed over title to all the nation's gold reserves, which were owned by the people, to the Federal Reserve.
    By statute, the Federal Reserve remits 94% of their profits to the US Treasury. The remaining 6% is still a huge amount.
    Whose pockets does that profit go to ?

    No, your sources are WRONG. The gold went to the Treasury. They sucked the regional Fed banks dry. Why do you think the Treasury folks were chortling and the Fed folks pissed as hell ?

    The Fed acts as CUSTODIAN for the U.S. Treasury. The Fed makes money on open market operations....check clearing...and other functions. The balance is entirely sent back to the Treasury.

    The pockets it goes back to ? The American People. :) With some $$$ earmarked for the ESF.

  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @GoldFinger1969 said:

    @dcarr said:
    FDR handed over title to all the nation's gold reserves, which were owned by the people, to the Federal Reserve.
    By statute, the Federal Reserve remits 94% of their profits to the US Treasury. The remaining 6% is still a huge amount.
    Whose pockets does that profit go to ?

    No, your sources are WRONG. The gold went to the Treasury. They sucked the regional Fed banks dry. Why do you think the Treasury folks were chortling and the Fed folks pissed as hell ?

    The Fed acts as CUSTODIAN for the U.S. Treasury. The Fed makes money on open market operations....check clearing...and other functions. The balance is entirely sent back to the Treasury.

    The pockets it goes back to ? The American People. :) With some $$$ earmarked for the ESF.

    The US Treasury already held the gold in 1933 and is still the custodian of what is left (after a quantity went to the New York Federal Reserve Bank).

    But when US Treasury Gold Certificates were exchanged for new Federal Reserve notes and/or balances, the Gold Certificates were transferred to the Federal Reserve, This gave title of the gold to the Federal Reserve.

    6% of the Fed's profits are distributed via dividends to the "stockholders" of the Federal Reserve.
    Who are the "stockholders" ?

  • roadrunnerroadrunner Posts: 28,303 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 28, 2023 11:34AM

    Did you see what happened to SIVB today ? Think they can create debt out of thin air ? Maybe you should call the CEO who lost 65% of his $25 MM in stock today along with diluting the hell out of the shareholders. Tell him you have an easy way to "create debt of of thin air...collect interest on it...with no reserve requirement......uncontrolled money creation" :)

    >

    What about Over The Counter Derivatives held by the major banks, in particular the TBTF banks from 2009. That's all opaque and on paper valued "marked to model" at $632 TRILL on the latest BIS report. 80% of it in interest rate contract bets. The other 20% in bets in currency, commodities, PMs, credit default swaps, etc. Much of that created out of thin air by the banks themselves. There is essentially no underlying "asset". The margin supposedly runs around 2-4%. Leverage running 25X-50X. The banks earn interest and commissions each year on those bets. It's essentially the bankers off-balance sheet monetary system. There's essentially no reserve requirement for those bets/assets, just ill-conceived mathematical marked to model accounting (the marked to market was tossed out in 2009 FASB because they couldn't legitimately cover these bets). The total change in these "assets" was from under $1 TRILL in 1989 to the current stated value of approx $600 TRILL. The entire pile is "debt money" ....and created out of thin air....uncontrolled and unauthorized money creation entirely divorced from the Central Banking Monetary Systems. When $30-$60 TRILL in CDS, and MBS failures occurred in 2008-2009 the FED and other Central Banks paid off the winners. The interest rate contracts of the OTC derivatives have really never been strongly tested before. Maybe SVB will get that rolling? SVB was dealing in mainly "real" assets and contracts. A drop in the bucket compared to the huge dark pools of contrived money out there held by the biggest banks. If/when the contagion ever spreads to JPM, BoA, Citi, WF, GS, MS, etc that's a different story.

    Barbarous Relic No More, LSCC -GoldSeek--shadow stats--SafeHaven--321gold
  • dcarrdcarr Posts: 7,882 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @roadrunner said:

    Did you see what happened to SIVB today ? Think they can create debt out of thin air ? Maybe you should call the CEO who lost 65% of his $25 MM in stock today along with diluting the hell out of the shareholders. Tell him you have an easy way to "create debt of of thin air...collect interest on it...with no reserve requirement......uncontrolled money creation" :)

    >

    What about Over The Counter Derivatives held by the major banks, in particular the TBTF banks from 2009. That's all opaque and on paper "valued" at $600 TRILL or thereabouts. 80% of it in interest rate contract bets. The other 20% in bets in currency, commodities, PMs, credit default swaps, etc. Much of that created out of thin air by the banks themselves. There is essentially no underlying "asset". The margin supposedly runs around 2-4%. Leverage running 25X-50X. The banks earn interest and commissions each year on those bets. It's essentially the bankers off-balance sheet monetary system. There's essentially no reserve requirement for those bets/assets, just ill-conceived mathematical marked to model accounting (the marked to market was tossed out in 2009 FASB because they couldn't legitimately cover these bets). The total change in these "assets" was from under $1 TRILL in 1989 to the current stated value of approx $600 TRILL. The entire pile is "debt money" ....and created out of thin air....uncontrolled and unauthorized money creation entirely divorced from the Central Banking Monetary Systems. When $30-$60 TRILL in CDS, and MBS failures occurred in 2008-2009 the FED and other Central Banks paid off the winners. The interest rate contracts of the OTC derivatives have really never been strongly tested before. Maybe SVB will get that rolling? SVB was dealing in mainly "real" assets and contracts. A drop in the bucket compared to the huge dark pools of contrived money out there held by the biggest banks. If/when the contagion ever spreads to JPM, BoA, Citi, WF, GS, MS, etc that's a different story.

    "Member" banks (stockholders) of the Federal Reserve can essentially bail themselves out, if desired. So if JPM, BoA, Citi, WF, GS, MS get into trouble, they can easily "print" their way out of it (the cost of doing so is dilution of the value of the US Dollar).

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    Great post, DCarr !! :)

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭

    Making progress on the book...just got to the case being brought to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Plaintiffs are arguing that they are entitled to $1,629 for every $1,000 of face value ($35/$20.67 the revaluation of the gold price) even if not paid out in gold coin. The U.S. Government is arguing that they control the monetary apparatus....nobody was "hurt" by the gold actions and removal of the gold clauses because the actual bond prices of bonds without the clauses did NOT decline if they were worth "less" than before (a somewhat circular argument that also relied on "stale" bond pricing -- but it apparently worked).

    The government did honor the gold clauses in international treaties (i.e., Panama Canal payments) because that involved foreign policy (interesting). Also, the gold clause cases dealt only with retroactive changes to past contracts; nobody denied the government could prohibit FUTURE payments in gold or gold coin.

  • silviosisilviosi Posts: 444 ✭✭✭

    What GoldFinger1969 put here, (the book) it is more how was manipulate the big recession in that consensus of the political wave.

    To day it is a little bit different. To day we want to by pass many steps and pass direct to the no 61 till 70 of the Marx letters.
    I am not Left or Right. I even laugh the ways they go so un-controllable. The problems is how will be balance all in the mixt-up was crated?. Simple: As per history: Bonds will be historical papers and the internal currency loose value at the more bottom value. Then after will start the recuperation period. How long? I will not live so long.

    conclusion: Gold will sky , then down and recuperation will be the good bulling.

    I hope I am wrong on this.

    NEVER ARGUE WITH AN IDIOT.FIRST THEY WILL DRAG YOU DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL.THEN, THEY WILL BEAT YOU WITH EXPERIENCE. MARK TWAIN

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited April 29, 2023 9:53AM

    Interesting Tidbit I Never Knew: The Exchange Stabilization Fund (ESF), which has been used by the Treasury over the decades to stabilize the dollar, bailout Mexico (1994), and help stabilize the stock/bond markets (1987, 1998, 2020)....was created in 1934 as a result of the $2 billion windfall the government recognzied once it revalued gold upward from $20.67 to $35 an ounce.

    I believe today it is about $35 billion in size, once the special Covid programs are excised.

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 9, 2023 5:50PM

    Finished the book....HIGHLY recommended, might even pay though to read one of the law review analyses before or after the book.

    I thought it could have used more commentaries and editorial responses from the few papers quoted, and I would have liked to have seen The Wall Street Journal, BARRON'S, and The Financial Times added to the bunch. Since the focus and fear was mostly from the financial sector, more commentary and sentiment from that group to me would have been warranted.

  • GoldFinger1969GoldFinger1969 Posts: 1,138 ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 9, 2023 6:03PM

    Lots of tidbits, interesting facts, and other items of interest from the book:

    • There is an expanded timeline of gold during the early FDR years in the beginning of the book (I have posted my own shorter March-June 1933 timeline dealing with the 1933 Saints).
    • There were 4 Gold Clause Cases, though the U.S. government was a party to only 3 of them. The Bankers Trust case was consolidated with the Norman/Railroad decision.
    • A week after the Emergency Banking Act (EBA) of March 1933, $800 MM in Treasuries were sold with gold clauses.
    • Gold holdings were down $188 MM 3 weeks after the EBA. $1 BB hoarded in gold, gold coin, and gold certificates as of March 13th, 1933.
    • March 3rd….Federal Reserve Bank of NY loses $250 MM in gold and $150 MM in currency in 1 day. $250 MM short of currency liability reserves (40% backing) for gold certificates.
    • $120 BB in gold clause debt according to NY Times in May 1933 editorial. $22 BB feds, $100 BB private sector
    • FDR's 2nd Fireside Chat was disingenuous...said only 3-4% of gold was available for all promises made involving gold....but it's the DOLLAR AMOUNT in gold that was critical.
    • Irving Trust held the mortgages for Hazelwood etc. al in the SCOTUS case that was consolidated with Norman vs. Baltimore Railroad.
    • After the London Monetary and Economic Conference (LMEC), FDR and his team no longer were passive on gold or exchange rates…they were forcing the issue, unlike before where they reacted to bank holidays, meetings set by Hoover like LMEC, etc.
    • Jan-Dec 1934…stock of monetary gold went from $3.9 to $8.1 BB. $2.5 BB from revaluation to $35/oz.
    • Following GRA of 1934, $750 MM flowed in Feb 1934. $363 MM from London & Paris. $262 MM in March…. $155 MM in April
    • ESF from GRA of Jan 20th, 1934…..$2 BB initial funding
    • FDR & Co. “picked” the price at which they’d buy gold daily for a while. 21 cents = 3 x 7 (lucky number) and other nonsensical targets.
    • Gold clauses HELD in international treaty obligations like payment for Panama Canal lease.
    • Gold Clause prohibition in future contracts was an easier sell than abrogating past contracts.
    • Gold bonds did NOT rise in price relative to those without the clause after the June 5th, 1933 Congressional Resolution so no “taking” according to supporters of abrogation. But very few data points is counter-point. If not worth anything – why insert it ?
    • Validity of national debt not in question (refusal to pay on all debt). So that clause of Constitution not relevant.
    • BIG fears once the case was argued by SCOTUS. Fears of major volatility/declines in the stock market and/or bond market. Hoped for a decision on Lincoln’s Birthday when market was closed.
    • ESF started in 1934 with $2 billion from revaluation upward in gold price.
    • Four Horsemen stated that the U.S. govt had made exchanging gold impossible so the government couldn’t use that as an excuse to invalidate the gold clauses. Like hiding assets and then claiming bankruptcy.
    Henry Hart, Harvard Law Review: “The earliest, and not the least pointed, commentary upon the majority opinion in the Liberty Bond gold clause case1 was made by the Associated Press, when it announced that the government had “lost”. That first plain misreading of the opinion, and the more discriminating bewilderment of succeeding dispatches, called attention to what is perhaps the single most significant aspect of the decision. For what was confusing to the reporter at the first reading is even more so to the commentator at the hundredth. Few more baffling pronouncements, it is fair to say, have ever issued from the United States Supreme Court.”
    • The gold clauses in private bond contracts interfered with the ability of the Government to conduct monetary and dollar policies. These got KO’d, whereas the U.S. Government bonds did NOT. But that abrogation didn’t lead to damages, the Court said.
    • After declaring the U.S. off the gold standard on April 19, 1933…the U.S. government sold $500 MM in bonds with a 2.75% coupon…WITH a gold clause !!
    • The gold clauses in U.S. bonds were mandated by a 1917 law passed by Congress which only exempted short-term Treasury bills.
    • The gold flow into the U.S. accelerated as fear of Nazi Germany spread in Europe in the 1930’s. By 1939 U.S. gold holdings had increased to $17.6 billion from $7.4 billion in February 1934. *DAM
    Eugene Meyer, had been governor of the Federal Reserve Board from September 1930 until his resignation in May 1933) wrote that Roosevelt’s letter seemed like a eulogy:

    The plain and unvarnished fact is that the Federal eserve System of today is not the one established 20 years ago, any more than it is the system which existed a year back. The present organization has been shorn of its power to formulate an independent credit policy and it can no longer regulate the flow of funds into and out of this country, as it did when the United States was on the gold standard. The gold reserve act of 1934 not only took from the system all of its gold, but in doing so definitely deprived it of future control over gold movements, although of course that power had been lost as a result of the gold embargo and subsequent monetary manipulations. With the passage of this act, therefore, the central banking system of this country formally surrendered one of the chief privileges and duties which it had exercised prior to suspension of gold payments. … The Administration has assumed responsibility for defining our monetary policies” (Washington Post February 17, 1934, 8)

    • The Federal Reserve Act required reserves of 35% in "gold or lawful money" against Federal Reserve deposits and of 40% in gold against Federal Reserve notes. This requirement was reduced to a uniform 25% in gold certificates in 1945, when the System was approaching the minimums set in 1913. In 1965 the requirement was abolished entirely for deposits.
    • U.S. gold holdings had fallen from $22.8 billion in 1950 to $17.8 billion in 1960 and continued to slide to $14.1 billion in 1965 and $11.1 billion in 1970.
    • Pressure to repeal the 1933 Joint Resolution increased. In 1977 that further step was taken, but the repeal was made applicable only to "obligations issued on or after the date of enactment of this section. The courts therefore rejected attempts by holders of old gold clause obligations to obtain gold or gold value at a time when gold was selling for hundreds of dollars an ounce.
    • The 1982 Gold Report also recommended that sales of the coins be exempt from capital gains and sales taxes. The Commission opposed "issue of Treasury gold-backed notes or bonds." Such an obligation would be equivalent to a bond containing a gold clause. The case for such an issue would be twofold: the interest cost would presumably be lower than for conventional borrowings because the principal would be indexed to gold, and the issue would be a step toward a greater role for gold. It is interesting that France issued gold securities ("Giscard bonds") in 1973, which because of the rise in the price of gold were then quoted at a considerable multiple of the original issue price.

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