Whoever mutilates, cuts, disfigures, perforates, unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, Federal Reserve Bank, or Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such item(s) unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
—Violation of Title 18, Section 333 of the United States Code
‘The third indispensable element in building the new prosperity is closely related to creating new jobs and halting inflation. We must protect the position of the American dollar as a pillar of monetary stability around the world.
In the past 7 years, there has been an average of one international monetary crisis every year. . . .
I have directed Secretary Connally to suspend temporarily the convertibility of the dollar into gold or other reserve assets, except in amounts and conditions determined to be in the interest of monetary stability and in the best interests of the United States.
Now, what is this action—which is very technical—what does it mean for you?
Let me lay to rest the bugaboo of what is called devaluation.
If you want to buy a foreign car or take a trip abroad, market conditions may cause your dollar to buy slightly less. But if you are among the overwhelming majority of Americans who buy American-made products in America, your dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today.
The effect of this action, in other words, will be to stabilize the dollar.’
—Excerpt from United States President Richard Nixon’s address to the nation on August 15, 1971
In 1971 the American president Richard Nixon shocked the world by ending the remnants of the gold standard. Terminating the United States dollar’s relationship to gold, ‘unpegging’ it from this controlled variable, would cause financial instability for the economies around the world for decades to come. The effects of the ‘Nixon Shock’ in America and abroad are still debated by economists today. Nixon’s administration is infamous for their illegal actions and financial foul play occurring in and around the Watergate Scandal.
Images by Regina Mamou.