US debt back in 1971 was $400 billion vs $22 trillion today, a mere 55x increase. US GDP was $1.2 trillion in 1971 vs $20 trillion today. So a 55x increase in US debt in the last 48 years has only produced a 17x increase in GDP. The US economy is running on empty, which is no wonder since massive money printing of worthless paper money cannot create any real wealth whatsoever but only inflated paper wealth. But it is not just the US which is in this position. Taking away the gold backing of the dollar in 1971 gave all countries a free for all right to print money and expand credit.
1969: I Began Working At A Bank In Geneva
My business life coincides pretty well with this period, working in a Geneva bank in 1969. So I do remember the start of the destruction of money. Moving later to the UK, I saw the pound collapse from Swiss Franc 10 to £1 in 1972 to Swiss Franc 1.20 today, an 88% fall of the pound. And against gold, the pound has lost 99% since 1971. A period of economic mismanagement and political upheaval in the UK in the 1970s started it all. Annual inflation was 15-17% for a 7 year period and interest rates reached over 20%.
2008: Minutes From Collapse
The financial system was minutes from collapsing in 2008 during the Great Financial Crisis. Eleven years later, global debt has doubled and risk has increased exponentially. Central bankers are aware that the world economy is now standing at a crossroads. The big problem is that they don't have a choice of what path to take. The path was laid by them many decades ago and now there is no way back. The Chinese understood back then where the path would lead.
2019: 1971 Redux
August 2019 is in many ways similar to August 1971. America was then in a corner. The country was under pressure after the costly Vietnam war and the gold standard stopped the US from cheating the system by printing money. The rest of the world saw the precarious US situation and started selling dollars. To salvage their position, Nixon saw no other way than to take the dollar off the gold standard, and this was the start of half a century of global money printing and credit expansion on a monumental scale.
Nixon's August 1971 decision has led to a crisis of unprecedented proportions. Still, very few people can see that we are now at the point of "a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved" as von Mises said.