在各国的国库中，大约储备了525,000,000盎司货币性黄金。换算成美元，其价值大约为11,000,000,000美元。而其中，有相当于4,000,000,000多美元的黄金被存放在美国财政部（U. S. Treasury）和联邦储备银行（Federal Reserve Banks）的金库中，相当于2,000,000,000美元的黄金由法兰西银行（Bank of France）持有，相当于700,000,000美元的黄金则在英格兰银行手中，其余部分则散布在世界各国的银行金库里。
There are some 525,000,000 ounces of monetary gold in the treasuries of the world. In terms of dollars, this is worth almost $11,000,000,000. Of this supply, over $4,000,000,000 is in the U.S. in the vaults of the U. S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Banks, $2,000,000,000 is in the vaults of the Bank of France, some $700,000,000 in the Bank of England, and the rest in bank vaults scattered over the earth.
This supply is increased, each year, by a percentage of the new gold mined. The amount varies, but for the last five years the mines have supplied about $400,000,000 worth of gold a year. Of this, some $88,000,000 has gone to India to be hoarded by individuals. Some $73,000,000 has been used in the arts (including dentistry), leaving less than $240,000,000 to enrich the treasuries of the world.
Of the whole $400,000,000, the South African Rand mines have furnished over half. The U. S. and Canada come next, with around $40,000,000 apiece, then Russia (about $20,000,000), and Mexico, Australia, and Southern Rhodesia (each with a dozen-odd million). The balance is distributed about the globe. A summary shows that English-speaking countries produce over 80 per cent of the yearly increment.
This much is uncertain: the future of the mines which supply this gold, an even more important factor in gold shortage arguments. The Rand mines, being the largest, dominate this situation, and experts are pessimistic about their future production. A mine, however, does not produce. It merely takes out of the ground what is there. Hence its supply is limited. But the nature of such limits are matters of geologic opinion. A man can't walk around a body of ore 6,000 feet beneath the surface. He can drill holes in it, study the structure of the rock, take samples, and use all the tricks he knows, but, at best, the minute he begins to quote figures to you he is guessing. At present, the majority of the geologists guess that within ten years the production of the Rand mines will be cut in half. They guess again that the American continental output will remain constant for "many years." Nor, even if they guess right, have they given you the whole answer to the future of gold production. For the process of taking gold out of the earth and crushing and refining it is a technical process, subject, like all technical processes, to improvement. When a method called the cyanide process was invented, men made fortunes buying dumps of rock abandoned as commercially worthless and putting them through the new method.
There is still another factor. Mining-gold is a business, like any other, but differing from most in that the price of its product is fixed by law, inexorably. Nor has the miner any sales problem. The profits he makes are influenced solely by his cost of production. The mounting labor and material costs of good times cut down his margin until it disappears and he abandons his mine. When compressed air and steel and dynamite and men are cheap, he may reopen it. Hence, as a gold shortage approaches and the metal's value measured in these commodities rises, more and more mines may be operated profitably, and production rises. Prophets of lean years admit this, but reply that the number of known mines affected is not large enough to offset the indicated shrinkage in reserves.
One last consideration: such arguments as have been suggested above are based on gold deposits known to exist. It is not logical to suppose that man has located and marked on a map every yard of gold-laden rock. The gold in California or South Africa or the Yukon gave no warning. Man stumbled on it. Just when he may stumble on another bonanza none knows but, to date, the Lord has provided. He further provides that as gold grows more desirable to man, more of the species look for it.
Remember these figures and these considerations if you are interested in holding your own in an argument on the world's gold supply. And, if the current depression is prolonged, there will be more and more such arguments, for in the darkness of hard times is the hour of great argument about gold reserves. Which comes about this way.
Since man has come to measure his handiwork in gold, any increase in the amount of gold available, it is argued, will make his goods more valuable in terms of gold. Other factors may make them worth more, too, and we shall come to these; but everything else aside, there seems no doubt that since the world's worth is measured in gold, if there were more gold the world would be worth more. Thus every discovery of a new supply of the metal has been accompanied by a boom. Happy days followed the discovery of America and the return of gold in galleons, the prospecting of the Forty-niners, the opening of South African and Alaskan fields. The effect, of course, is comparatively temporary, because once the world has become used to its new wealth, things settle down again -- an individual may get twice the wage, but it will cost twice as much to live. Nor is the wealth evenly distributed, nor does it increase the cost of living according to mathematical formulas, nor in direct proportion to the amount of gold discovered. But while a balance is being struck, while the new millionaire is scattering his shekels, the upward curve persists. The nouveau riche is hiring more people to wait on him and paying them more.
The reverse of this process would occur when the world's goods increased faster than the gold supply. Relatively, gold becomes scarcer and men are willing to exchange more commodities for a given amount of it -- in other words, prices fall and the deflation is on.
Now most arguments on gold shortage start -- with these considerations in mind – on the assumption that the world's commodities are increasing by about 3 per cent a year, so that, to maintain a stable price level, the gold on hand must increase a like amount. This it has not been doing. The rate of increase for the last ten years has been fraction less. The future, as noted, appears even more dubious. Hence, reasons one school, something must be done about it, and one of the things would be to produce more actual metal.
However, just as we observe uncertainties in the thesis that the supply of new gold must inevitably dwindle, there are also uncertainties in connection with the computed 3 per cent increase. This much is true: if, tomorrow, very large amounts of gold were added to the world's treasury, boom times would begin the day after -- and last until that gold had been, largely speaking, digested.