Paul Ryan, vice-presidential nominee and Ayn Rand fanboy, claims that a speech encouraging America to return to gold coins instead of paper money was formative to his adult philosophy.
So Krugman wonders, when did we abandon gold coins?
Francisco d'Anconia on Money - NYTimes.com
Dave Weigel made a great catch the other day: he notes that Paul Ryan has said that his views on monetary policy are based on Francisco d’Anconia’s speech in Atlas Shrugged.
Aside from revealing just how much of a Rand fanboy Ryan is — urban legend, my foot — this is interesting because that 23 paragraph speech isn’t just a call for the gold standard; it’s a call for eliminating paper money and going back to gold coins.
This had me wondering: when was the last time the economy actually ran on specie, rather than notes?
. . .
Well, the Millennial Edition of Historical Statistics of the United States (subscription required) has some data. As I read it, as of 1813 there was only $7 million worth of coins in the hands of the U.S. public, versus $52 million in bank notes. So even two centuries ago, we were already a paper-money economy.
And this means that Ryan wants to turn the clock back two centuries, not one.