Magazine June 11, 2012, Issue

Monetary Regime Change

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., February 9, 2011 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
An old order fails

Twice in the last century, economic turmoil revealed the failure of a monetary regime and forced the West to abandon it for another. During the Great Depression of the 1930s one country after another abandoned the gold standard — a decision vindicated when they recovered in the same order. The inflation of the late 1960s and 1970s, meanwhile, persuaded most of the developed world’s central bankers to quit trying to “fine-tune” the real growth rate of the economy and instead concentrate on achieving price stability.

It is once again time for regime change. The crisis in Europe and our stagnation at

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