A stockbroker friend of mine sent me this chart showing the ratio between the Dow Jones Industrial Average (and its equivalent predecessor index) and the price of gold. Notice the greater amplitude of variation in this ratio after Congress established the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913 and severed the connection between gold and money. After 1913, money could be created in arbitrary fashion by the Federal Reserve Bank. Further sundering the connection between gold and money in the 1930s, FDR's New Deal Congress outlawed the private ownership of gold, and clauses in private contracts that called for payment in gold. Finally, Richard Nixon's Congress severed the last vestige of the gold standard in the late 1960s and early 1970s by suspending the U.S. government's promise to pay in gold to settle international claims.
These moves to unmoor the dollar from gold coincided with the stock market swinging to higher highs and lower lows relative to gold. I interpret the chart as showing the effect of monetary inflation in the 1920s, 1960s, and 1990s, and then the impact of recession/Depression in the 1930s and price inflation combined with recession in the 1970s.
When the stock market was relatively high and gold low, in the 1920s, 1960s, and 1990s, the economy genuinely boomed, but that boom was artificially enhanced by easy money. That is why the ratio soared to higher highs than existed in the pre-1913 gold standard era. The result of that monetary inflation was an economic bust, as the dislocations caused by that monetary inflation harmed the economy. Inevitably, the excess money showed up in price inflation, especially evident during the 1970s "stagflation" when both recession and inflation cursed the nation.
Does this chart tell us anything about the future? The author of the chart would have us believe that we are headed for a 1930s or 1970s style economic catastrophe, as shown by the "Target Zone" marked on the chart. Certainly, the precursors for such a catastrophe have been established, and we are seeing the first signs of economic malaise of the 1970s variety. We had monetary inflation in the 1990s and 2000s, which is now manifesting itself in price inflation and incipient recession.
What is your interpretation of the historical meaning of the graph? What do the highs and lows of the various eras mean? Do you agree with my interpretation? What is your thought of the future? Are we headed to a low Dow/high gold ratio that we last saw in the 1930s and 1970s, or will such an economic disaster be averted? In other words, will our economy muddle along for awhile, or must we endure a true economic disaster before the economy improves?
I will offer my opinion later in the comments section.