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Worth Thinking About?
February 27, 2008

The gold bugs are actively dissecting the news that the International Monetary Fund appears to be in the process of making a decision to sell 12.9 million ounces of gold bullion.

Created in 1944 by the Bretton Woods treaty, the purpose of the IMF was originally to help member countries keep their exchange rates fixed by helping keep their trade accounts balanced.

This help ranged from advice to loans. Nowadays, where exchange rates are floating and nationalism has caused countries to resent or resist any advice that runs counter to prevailing political passions, the IMF has lost much of its original purpose. It does still lend money and the purpose of the gold sale is to raise some additional lendable funds.

What will the extra supply hitting the market do to the price of gold? Not very much, I would think. As long as the Federal Reserve continues to rapidly increase the American money supply, inflation will be a problem and individuals who want a hedge against it will continue to buy gold.

It pays to keep in mind that 12.9 million ounces is less than $13 billion. The American money supply, measured at its most basic level, currency in circulation, is nearly $1 trillion and annual economic output is about $14 trillion. This doesn't even take into account the rest of the world.

Put in that light, it is hard to imagine the market having any difficulty absorbing the gold.

There are good reasons to buy or sell gold. The IMF's possible gold bullion sale should not affect any of them.

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About the Author
David C. Harper has been a coin collector since 1963. He joined the Krause Publications editorial staff in 1978 and is currently editor of Numismatic News and World Coin News. He also edits two books annually, North American Coins & Prices and Coin Digest. He is the author of the Class of '63 column that runs each week in Numismatic News. His first bylined numismatic article appeared in the June 1971 issue of Coins Magazine and his various Krause Publications assignments included a stint as editor of the magazine 1980-1983. Harper received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1977. He had a double major of journalism and economics.

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