A Loaf Of Bread, A Gallon Of Gas, An Ounce Of Gold

The average cost for a loaf of bread in 1930 was ten cents ($.10). The average cost for a gallon of gasoline was also ten cents.  With gold priced in U.S. dollars at $20.00 to the ounce, you could at that time purchase two hundred loaves of bread or two hundred gallons of gasoline (or some combination thereof).  Twenty dollars of paper currency OR one ounce of gold valued at $20.00, usually in the form of a U.S. Double Eagle ($20.00 gold coin, legal tender), were equal in “purchasing power”.

Over the next four decades the cost for a loaf of bread/gallon of gasoline  continued to increase such that in 1970 the respective costs were twenty-five cents/thirty-six cents.  An ounce of gold (at $40.00) would purchase  one hundred sixty loaves of bread/one hundred eleven gallons of gasoline.   That is considerably less than the two hundred units of either item which could have been purchased in 1930.  But the numbers are even worse when we look at what twenty dollars of U.S. paper currency would buy in 1970: eighty loaves of bread/fifty-five gallons of gasoline.  Both gold and the U.S. dollar lost purchasing power over the forty-year period 1930-70 but  the U.S. dollar was the “biggest loser”.

Time for a bit of history to help us understand what had happened historically over the course of that forty-year period.  In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order prohibiting private ownership of gold by U.S. citizens and revaluing gold at $35.00 to the ounce.  Also, U.S. paper currency would no longer be convertible into gold for U.S. citizens.  Foreign holders (primarily foreign governments) could continue to redeem their holdings of U.S. dollars for gold at the “new, official” rate of $35.00 to the ounce.  But what does that really mean?

If you are a foreign holder of U.S. dollars, you had just been told that your stash of “money” (in the form of U.S. currency) was now worth forty-one percent less than previously.  It was a tacit admission by the U.S. government that they had been “inflating” the money supply aggressively as evidenced by the cumulative effects of that inflation showing up in the cost of goods and services (i.e. average cost of loaf of bread/gallon of  gasoline).

The Depression (1930s) and World War II (1940s) “conveniently” received much of the blame. But things progressed reasonably well (economically speaking) throughout the fifties and sixties. By the late 1960’s and early 1970’s foreign governments were demanding returns of their gold on deposit here in the U.S.  Some of that gold was the result of new redemptions of the accumulation of U.S. dollars which they held and which were promised as redeemable in gold.

In 1968, the United States Government again revalued gold “officially” at $40.00 to the ounce and at the same time acknowledged a “free market” price for gold which could operate on its own, independently. However, the U.S. would not recognize the free market price in any official dealings/transactions.

By 1971 things were getting a bit dicey.  Foreign governments wanted their gold, but the U.S. did not want to release it.  Or, they didn’t have it.  Probably some combination of both.  So, in August 1971, President Nixon suspended any further convertibility of U.S. dollars into gold by non-U.S. citizens.  All hell broke loose. Literally.

Prices of goods and services in the United States began rising rapidly (historically speaking) and the U.S. dollar price of gold peaked in 1980 at $850.00 to the ounce.  The average price for gold in 1980 was $615.00 to the ounce.

And, by 1980 the average cost of a loaf of bread was $.50 (double what it was in 1970) and the average cost of a gallon of gasoline had settled out at $1.34 (several years after the Arab Oil Embargo of early 1970’s).  The above stated average U.S. dollar price of gold ($615.00 to the ounce) would purchase twelve hundred thirty loaves of bread or five hundred sixteen gallons of gasoline.  And the good old U.S. dollar?  Twenty dollars in U.S. paper currency would buy forty loaves of bread/seventeen gallons of gasoline.  Ten years later, in 1990, a loaf of bread had increased to $.70 and a gallon of gasoline to $1.34.  With gold at $338 USD/oz you could purchase four hundred eighty-two loaves of bread/two hundred eighty-five gallons of gasoline. Twenty U.S. dollars would buy twenty-eight loaves of bread/fifteen gallons of gasoline.

So where are we today/2017?  The average cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of gasoline are approximately the same – about $2.50. With gold at $1200.00 to the ounce you can purchase four hundred eighty loaves of bread or four hundred eighty gallons of gasoline which is nearly one hundred forty percent MORE than the amount you could have purchased with one ounce of gold in 1930. And twenty dollars in U.S. currency will purchase eight loaves of bread or eight gallons of gasoline which is ninety-six percent LESS than the amount you could have purchased with twenty dollars in U.S. currency in 1930.

What else do you need to know?  Get some gold.



2 thoughts on “A Loaf Of Bread, A Gallon Of Gas, An Ounce Of Gold”

    1. Good question. It depends somewhat on how we define “crisis”. If conditions are bad enough, the grocer might not be there to make change or sell you groceries at all.

      Also, the purpose in holding gold is to protect or offset the ongoing deterioration of the value of the U.S. dollar. Gold holds its value. The dollar doesn’t. And there are smaller denomination gold coins. Also, it might not hurt to have a few pre-1965 silver coins on hand if you are expecting a functional breakdown economically and financially. If there is a complete repudiation of the U.S. dollar and paper currencies, having some gold coins – any denomination – would be better than holding paper that nobody wants.

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