How To Mine the New York Times

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fear of the nutburger smear, Stephen Metcalf’s Believing (and
Believing and Believing) in Bullion article for the 5 June issue
of the New York Times Sunday Magazine was a bit warily anticipated
by gold’s advocates, some of whose prominent stalwarts were among
the article’s interview subjects. Yet legendary gold investor Jim
Sinclair pronounced himself satisfied with the article in an email
to his readers list, saying that the author presented his views
fairly. Gary North, on the other hand, cut off email communication
with the author for, according to the author’s own report, his unwitting
violation of Dr. North’s interview parameters. Nonetheless, a mix
of gold advocates ranging from the peripatetic newsletter author
Doug Casey to the comparatively more stationary internet commentator
Addison Wiggin had their own shining moments in Metcalf’s copy.

author’s online oeuvre reveals a stylish and thoughtful writer,
devoid of dogma, who treats his largely cultural subjects (ranging
from Loretta Lynn to Henry James to punk rockers) fairly if not
sympathetically. Other than a brief joint review of recent books
by neo-Keynesians Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, there’s no evidence
the author has ever written about either finance or economics. So,
in tackling gold, how’d he do? Pretty darned good, I’d say!

just several gracefully written pages, Metcalf hit the highs and
lows of what might have been a gold historian’s remarks on the first
day of a Gold 101 class (were such a class actually on offer in
any university’s curriculum): gold-as-money, the essential valuelessness
of fiat currencies, the Fed’s demonetization and politicalization
of the metal’s role in the monetary system, the sometime roller-coaster
nature of the market and its huge profit potential, and — of course
— the recent 20-year bear market from which gold only began to emerge
in 2001.

the article is imperfect, mostly on account of corporate media’s
usual omissions, i.e. no mention of the dollar’s loss of 95% of
its value since the founding of the Fed and the metal’s subsequent
demonetization, no gut-wrenching graphs showing the parabolic rise
in government spending and deficits since Nixon closed the gold
window in 1971, no shocking comparison graphs of general price levels
under the gold standard versus the Fed-managed fiat system, no mention
of authorities’ market manipulations since time immemorial, i.e.
the ancient world’s coin clippers and the medieval crown’s re-melt
operations, much less today’s more sophisticated operations, and
so on and so forth. Yet, despite these significant omissions, a
certain wariness of paper money faintly sounded as an undercurrent
throughout the story, not to mention the author’s own appreciation
for gold coin’s beauty and mystery.

no reader should expect to find exposs of the coercive and abusive
nature of government in the pages of the New York Times,
which has dedicated itself to supporting the centralization of political
power in Washington (and its financing through the Fed’s massive
swindle as Henry Hazlitt learned to his dismay) since the day Adolph
Ochs bought the newspaper with a $75,000 loan from J.P. Morgan back
in 1896.

the Times greatly fancies its rubric as "the paper of
record," you can be sure much cunning thought is given as to
what to leave in and what to leave out of "the record."
A freelancer, Metcalf had to pitch the article to the Times
by demonstrating a trend of increasing interest in gold, and he
was successful. Suddenly, after an exhausting, nearly two decades-long
bear market, the subject of gold-as-money is out of the closet and
"on the record."

task now is not to let the public — or even the New York Times
— forget the record, a record which invites elaboration and counter-argument.
Fortunately, Metcalf’s article offers advocates much usable material
to key off of with the liberal use of phrases like "Even the
New York Times recognizes"…or "Contrary to the
position of the New York Times regarding"…in making
their own points. Here are some possibilities:

Metcalf, writing for the New York Times, revealed that the
Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s gold vault can only be reached
by passing "through a narrow passageway cut into a 90-ton steel
cylinder" 80 feet below street level, which is an astonishing
level of security for what Fed spokesman Peter Bakstansky characterized
as an "anachronism."

North, in responding to an email query from a New York Times
writer, was adamant that "Money is far too important to
be left in the hands of bankers, Congress or the Federal Reserve

the past 70 years, as the New York Times recently reported,
"the United States has been conducting an experiment regarding
the dollar" in that the currency has been de-linked from gold.

an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine put
it, "a low-level panic about the debt crisis, and its possible
effect on the American economy, is gathering strength."

you get the idea.

those who – for moral reasons – might object to deferring to the
Times, the gods of the copybook editors surprisingly came
through a second time just last week.

a 3 June editorial entitled The Price of Gold, the newspaper
advocates the sale of $12 billion of IMF gold so that the proceeds
might be used to retire the debt of poor, mostly African countries,
and thus bring relief to long-suffering nations whose debts can
not be realistically paid — ever. The villains in the piece are
lobbyists from the National Mining Association, who are said to
fear that IMF gold sales would drive down the price of gold and
thereby severely impact profit margins. In the Times’s view,
it is the mining industry that is keeping both a naturally-benign
congress and a cowered White House — get this – "fearful of
a congressional fight" from doing the right thing.

course, retiring the debt of the countries is in fact bailing out
the IMF and the World Bank. The scheme would only work if the debts
were forgiven in their entirety, the IMF gold were returned to its
separate contributors, and then both the IMF and the World Bank
were dismantled.

leave the institutions intact is to wipe clean their filthy, sagging
books, and hand the dirty rag off to tax-payers. Once done, the
global loan sharks would be free to continue their predatory ways,
and within a decade those overwhelmed nations would be right back
in the same sinking boat they cling to today.

Times never mentions that most of what are known as "highly-indebted
nations" are also principal gold producers, and that it is
the mine workers and their families who have the most to lose from
a declining price of gold. A deep miner is a skilled worker whose
job is both difficult and dangerous, and his paycheck reflects that
reality. Yet the Times would apparently prefer that miners
busy themselves stitching up Fairtrade Foundation blue jeans for
socially-aware UK rockers at far lower wages on equipment mortgaged
to the World Bank!

is enough misdirection, misinformation, and misunderstanding in
this one editorial to inspire a baker’s dozen of correctly acerbic
comments. A few examples:

the New York Times recently reported that "the United
States has veto power over gold decisions" in the International
Monetary Fund, the paper failed to make clear that the United States,
in fact, has veto power over all IMF decisions.

the New York Times recently conceded that "few lawmakers
spend much time thinking about the I.M.F.," the newspaper still
advocated enriching what it admitted is an un-policed institution
through sales of member nations’ contributed gold….

advocates ought to give a cheer. Thanks to Stephen Metcalf and the
Times editorial board, those who do go on believing and believing
and believing in the yellow metal, have a new, on the record
strategy available, and that strategy is:

the Lord and pass the New York Times – again, and again,
and again.

13, 2005

Williamson [send her mail],
who covered the collapse of the Soviet Union for the Wall Street
Journal and many other publications, also testified
before Congress regarding the debacle of US-led Russian economic
. Her more current work can be found in the “Open
to the Public” section at

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