The Industrial Cycle and the Collapse of the Gold Pool in March 1968

Industrial cycles normally last about 10 years—give or take a year or two. The second industrial cycle after World War II began with the 1957-58 global recession. Given the fact that the industrial cycle lasts about 10 years, we would normally expect the next global downturn to occur around 1967. And indeed 1966-67 saw not only the “mini-recession” in the United States but the recession of 1966-67 in West Germany.

However, in 1967 the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve System were determined to avoid a recession on anything like the scale of the recession a decade earlier. As I explained in last week’s post, the bourgeois Keynesian economists believed that they understood the workings of the capitalist economy well enough to develop the “tools” that would allow the capitalists governments and central banks to avoid full-scale recessions in the future. Indeed in 1967, the U.S. economy escaped with only a “mini-recession.”

But just as the Keynesians were celebrating their final victory over the industrial cycle and its crises, there came the March 1968 run on gold, which led to the collapse of the London Gold Pool. The U.S. government and Federal Reserve System, seeking to stave off the complete collapse of the dollar-gold exchange standard, felt obliged to take deflationary measures. The fed funds rate, which on October 25, 1967, had fallen to as low as 2.00 percent, rose to 5.13 percent on March 15, 1968, the day the gold pool collapsed.

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