Courtesy Reuters

Gold and the End of the Depression

A SHORT time ago the English newspapers carried a rather amusing anecdote that was not without its symbolic side. Dedicating a public building in Birmingham, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was handed a gold key to open the door. At his first effort the key refused to turn in the lock, nor were the second and third essays more successful. Inspection proved that a very slight obstacle was interfering with the functioning of the key -- a bit of dried paint. Once it was removed, the Chancellor was more successful. The door opened wide before him.

The key to the difficulties from which the world is at present suffering is also, in my judgment, a key of gold. If all efforts to turn it in its lock seem so far to have failed, the failure has not been because the impediments are of any real magnitude, but rather because a certain number of preconceptions, born of post-war problems, are clogging the works with a slight, a very slight, layer of gum. A little coöperation, and the trouble would be removed; and then the door to a world economy less chaotic than anything we have known during these past years would swing wide open.

Is it not a strange thing that the very countries that were the most eager to preach a return to the gold standard immediately after the war should be the ones that are most discouraged about the gold standard today, while the countries that required the longest time to return to it are the ones that seem most convinced at present of the need of maintaining it? Voices are heard in England and the United States condemning the international gold standard as something outworn. Now those were the very countries that in the decade between 1920 and 1930 made the greatest effort at coöperation to reëstablish the gold standard on a world-wide basis. On the other hand, Germany, Italy, France and Belgium, which experienced

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