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Political Bookworm
Posted at 04:04 PM ET, 08/16/2011

Are the days of paper money numbered?

The latest upheavals in the stock market on the back of signs of a still-weakening economy — and not long after the greatest economic meltdown in a generation — raise questions of whether we are on the cusp of an epochal shift in the way our financial world is arranged.

One guy who is betting on it is Detlev Schlichter. His new book, “Paper Money Collapse: The Folly of Elastic Money and the Coming Monetary Breakdown,” tells right where he stands.

In preparation for the book’s release in September, Schlichter has been blogging furiously and writing for established media. In a Wall Street Journal piece published Monday, he declares what his book asserts: “Historically, all paper money systems ended either in complete collapse or a timely return to hard commodity money. Forty years after the start of the present paper money episode, we are facing the same choice.”

It is almost exactly 40 years to the day — Aug. 15, 1971 — that Schlichter reminds us “President Richard Nixon closed the gold window and ushered in, for the first time in human history, a global system of unconstrained paper money under full control of the state.”

Schlichter has peered into the past and now believes he sees the future. After Nixon’s move, he writes, “money everywhere became pure paper money—or, increasingly, electronic money—that could be created by privileged money producers—banks and central banks—practically without limit. The global paper standard has lasted 40 years but evidence is accumulating daily that its endgame is now fast approaching.”

In all he says, it’s hard to know if this is his wish or his fear.

By  |  04:04 PM ET, 08/16/2011

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