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Bimetallic Standard

Bimetallic Standard

What Is the Bimetallic Standard?

A bimetallic standard, or bimetallism, is a monetary system where a government perceives coins made out of both gold or silver as legal tender. The bimetallic standard backs a unit of currency to a fixed ratio of gold as well as silver.

The mint ratio, or gold/silver ratio, is the price of an ounce of gold separated by the price of an ounce of silver, and is the exchange rate between the two precious metals. In a bimetallist system, the mint ratio would be fixed by the government at a specific exchange rate, which could be adjusted every once in a while in response to market powers.

How the Bimetallic Standard Works

The bimetallic standard was first utilized in the United States in 1792 for the purpose of controlling the value of money. For instance, during the eighteenth century in the United States, one ounce of gold was equivalent to 15 ounces of silver. Subsequently, there would be 15 times more silver (by weight) in $10 worth of silver coins than $10 worth of gold coins. Adequate gold and silver were kept in reserves to back the paper currency. This bimetallic standard was utilized until the civil war when the Resumption Act of 1875 stated that paper money could be changed over completely to gold.

Advocates of the bimetallic standard contended that it consistently increased the money supply which would settle the economy. The gold surge of the late nineteenth century, which increased the supply of gold, put this contention to rest and basically transformed it into a historical and scholastic contention.

Economist Milton Friedman accepted that canceling the bimetallic standard increased the volatility in financial markets more than it would have should the U.S. remained on the bimetallic system.

While the formally adopted silver-to-gold parity ratio of 15:1 accurately mirrored the market ratio at that point, after 1793 the value of silver consistently declined, pushing gold out of circulation, as indicated by Gresham's law. This is a monetary principle expressing that "terrible money drives out great," and that means that individuals will like to store gold and utilize silver currency in exchange - even assuming they have a similar minted face values. The outcome is that gold coins become moderately more difficult to find and hence more significant regardless of their stated worth.

Bimetallism versus the Gold Standard

The gold standard is a fixed monetary system under which the government's currency is fixed and might be openly changed over into gold as it were. Under the gold standard, there is no pre-laid out ratio among gold and silver, and the price of silver opposite gold basically drifts unreservedly on the market.

After WWII, the Bretton Woods agreement forced Allied countries to acknowledge the U.S. dollar as a reserve instead of gold, and the U.S. government pledged to keep sufficient gold to back its dollars. In 1971, the Nixon administration ended the convertibility of U.S. dollars to gold, making a fiat currency system. The gold standard isn't presently utilized by any government. England stopped involving the gold standard in 1931 and the U.S. followed suit in 1933 and abandoned the remainders of the system in 1973.


  • Under the gold standard, just gold is legal tender and the gold/silver price ratio uninhibitedly floats.
  • Governments who formally acknowledge both gold and silver coins as legal tender follow the bimetallic standard as their monetary system.
  • Central banks were in charge of setting or fixing the gold/silver ratio under bimetallism, which gave stability to the currency markets.
  • The bimetallic standard was used by the United States momentarily during its initial a very long time as a republic through to the civil war.