Buried Treasure Doesn’t Stand a Chance Against the Fed

We dug up an old penny last night.

A post needed to go in the ground, so we picked up a shovel and broke through the sod.

After just a few scoops of our farm’s fine and, right now, very dry topsoil, we noticed something out of place. It wasn’t shiny, but it wasn’t dull like a rock.

We bent over, rubbed it between our fingers and gave it a close look.

It was a penny, dated 1944.

Buried Treasure

It turns out another man had worked this patch of land so many years ago. And he left an accidental deposit that serves as a fine lesson in the idea of money and what it means.

We all know pennies have come in many forms over the years. This was a typical “wheat” penny, named for the bundles of grain featured on the reverse.

This coin, unlike pennies today, was nearly pure copper.

But if we had been lucky enough to find a coin that was minted just the year prior, we would have found one made of steel. During WWII, copper was needed for things far more valuable than a penny.

(The headlines have always played a big role in our money.)

What was so interesting about that old penny in our dirty hand was its many ups and downs. The poor coin had been buried out of sight for generations… and yet it was pushed and pulled, poked and prodded in every direction greedy men could conjure.

The coin was minted in quite a year for money. You may recall, the Bretton Woods Agreement was signed in 1944.

It made our lowly penny part of the biggest monetary scheme in history – setting America up for economic dominance.

Our penny could be converted to gold and just about any other currency at a fixed rate. It was a tiny cog in a big, powerful machine.

But as big machines tend to do… things broke down.

Less than 30 years after our penny was hinged to gold, that precious tie broke.

The world’s supply of money was soaring (but nowhere close to what we’re seeing today, mind you), and the ties that held things together were getting stretched.

To fight it, President Nixon held a secret meeting at Camp David.

He emerged and shocked the world. He got on TV and said our little penny no longer had a tie to gold.

It was to be temporary, he promised.

We’ve never gone back to the gold standard. At least not yet.

Broken Promises

“In the past seven years,” Nixon told the nation, “there has been an average of one international monetary crisis every year…”

It’s all because of the ties to gold, he implied.

From there, he went on to do what politicians do best. He lied.

Let me lay to rest the bugaboo of what is called devaluation.

If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.

The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.

Ha.

Our poor penny has been anything but stable.

Within a decade it was losing value at a clip of nearly 15% per year. And by 1982, the copper inside a penny was worth more than the idea behind the penny.

The mints took out the good stuff and replaced it with cheap zinc.

Indeed, the penny we found last night would hardly recognize the penny in our pocket.

It’s with that idea we make our turn for home and check out the news of the day. It’s not good for our lowly penny.

History Is Coming

Money supply is soaring once again. Trillions of freshly printed dollars have been pumped into the economy.

Each one buries our poor penny further into the ground.

And the politicians, oh boy, they continue to meddle in the realm of metal and coins.

Just this week, news leaked of a recent conversation between the president and his advisors.

“No, sir,” we imagine the conversation went. “You can’t change the exchange rate. The financial world would implode.”

It turns out the White House was hoping to weaken the dollar against the Chinese yuan – a bit of tit for tat for Beijing’s meddling.

It’s nothing new.

Ties are getting stretched, and somebody’s getting an unfair deal.

Things must change.

But there’s no worry. Our old penny has seen it all before.

It’s worth a bit today. But it won’t stay here for long.

It never has.

Our poor penny doesn’t stand a chance.

We tossed it in the ground, said a quick prayer and wished it well. It’s been through so much.

Maybe the next fella to find it will have better things to say.

But, right now, the news isn’t good.

We suspect the next chapter in the old penny’s life could start on November 5, the date of another secretive meeting like the one in Camp David a generation ago.

If it turns out the way we think it will… it’s big trouble for the money in your wallet.

Click here to get the details on why our poor penny may soon be worthless.

Like what you’re reading? Let us know your thoughts at mailbag@manwardpress.com.

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