The End of Gold? Monetary Metals Studied at the Planetary and Human Scale During the Classical Gold Standard Era

Lecture | March 6 | 12-1 p.m. | 201 Moses Hall

 Andrea Westermann, GHI West. The Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institude Washington DC

 Institute of European Studies, GHI West. The Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institude Washington DC

Andrea Westermann analyzes an early case of global mineral resource appraisal: In 1877, Eduard Suess, a professor of geology from Vienna published The Future of Gold (Die Zukunft des Goldes). In 1892, the year the Austrian Government convened an expert commission to discuss its Empire's transition from a 40-year period of inconvertible paper money to a gold coinage standard, he published his update The Future of Silver (Die Zukunft des Silbers). In his studies, the Austrian geologist predicted a probable decline in the future world production of gold, and that under an international gold standard the supply of monetary gold would not be sufficient to meet the long-term demands of rapidly expanding world trade. The global production of silver, in contrast, would increase at a more regular rate. According to Suess, the money of the future was silver.

Why did Suess suggest dealing with both geological and monetary stocks of gold simultaneously? And why did his contemporaries ultimately reject his proposals? Dr. Westermann's findings speak to a pressing environmental issue: they point to the successful decoupling of the vision of sustained economic growth on the one hand, and mineral resource consumption on the other.

 heike@berkeley.edu, 510-643-4558