Forty years ago this month, in 1971, President Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard. Anthropologist and author David Graeber points out in his new book “Debt: The First 5,000 Years” (Melville House Publishing, 2011) that this decision marked an important shift in how we think about money. With U.S. dollars no longer backed by actual gold reserves, money essentially became a government promissory note. According to Graeber, Nixon’s decision ushered in an era of virtual money or credit, which we all know often leads to debt — something on everyone’s mind these days.
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