Courtesy Reuters

France and Gold

PUBLIC opinion abroad has been much impressed by two figures frequently published in the press. On June 25, 1928, when the franc was legally stabilized, the gold reserve of the Bank of France was 29 billions of francs. On October 28, 1932, the gold reserve of the Bank was 83 billions. This fact, presented in this manner, has impressed the entire world and still provokes the most contradictory arguments. The countries whose gold stocks have been depleted to the advantage of France cannot believe that this movement of gold was natural. It is taken as proof of a French desire for hegemony. The Bank of France is accused of having deliberately drawn in the yellow metal, of hoarding it, and of rendering it sterile. My aim in the present article is to show, first, how the gold came into France, and second, how it has been used there. I shall let the facts speak for themselves.


First of all, by contrasting the 29 billions of gold francs in the Bank of France on June 25, 1928, with the 83 billions on October 28, 1932, a false impression is created. The inference is that in the brief period of four years the Bank has, to its own profit and the detriment of the rest of the world, drained into its vaults a mass of gold and capital to the extent of 54 billion francs. The false picture is given of an enormous transfer of wealth, which is supposed to have coincided with the world depression and to have aggravated it. France is made to appear to have profited by the misfortunes of others.

The truth is quite different. On June 25, 1928, the Bank of France had not only 29 billions in gold, but also 26 billions of foreign balances which were worth gold and were already virtually gold. Not only did these balances represent gold, but the stabilization law, establishing in France not the gold exchange standard but the gold standard, placed upon the Bank the obligation of

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