Friday, April 4, 2014

On the intrinsic value of gold

This may end up launching a series of posts on intrinsic value, but I wanted to start off with gold.

People use a lot of things for currency - Federal Reserve Notes, Bitcoin, and Britxon Pounds among them - but there are those that argue that these pieces of paper or ether have no intrinsic value. What DOES have intrinsic value? Victor J. Aguilar quotes various authorities on this topic:

"Investors seek the intrinsic value of gold to protect themselves from inflation." – Ron Paul

"All political truth can be found in a coin shop." – Jeffrey Tucker

"Basic economic axiom: Money must originate from a commodity with intrinsic value." – Mark Anderson

"Gold and silver have intrinsic value." – Paul 4 Won

"Gold and silver are money made by God. He created them. Paper dollars are made by men! Whose money am I going to trust?" – Sierra HPBT

"The point of buying gold and silver is that the purchasing power of the metals don't change. So, while the dollar goes up and down, gold and silver do not." – Clark St Music

To which I say - poppycock.

While Aguilar has some excellent arguments against the claim that gold has an intrinsic value, I have some of my own.

At the end of the day, a commodity has whatever value we assign to it. If two people think that Bitcoin has a particular value, it has a particular value. If two people think that four-leaf clovers (also created by God) have a particular value, they have a particular value.

To prove this, I suggest that we conduct the following experiment:

(1) Give Ron Paul five pounds of gold.
(2) Lead him twenty miles into the desert in the middle of the summer.
(3) Place him in a locked cage.
(4) Wait two days.
(5) Send someone out to Ron with one liter of water, with an offer to sell the liter of water for three pounds of gold.

Where's that intrinsic value now, gold bugs?

P.S. I realize that I'm endangering my opportunity to ever become CEO of Mozilla, but I would like to cite one Biblical reference here. You see, the Bible does mention gold in hundreds of instances, and one mention appears to pertain to the topic of goldbugs. Revelation 9:20:

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

There's definitely some idolatry of gold going on in some circles.

P.P.S. A question for the gold salesperson - if gold is truly going to skyrocket in value, why are you so eager to sell it to me?
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