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Cost of gold the year you were born

  • 1950: Historic extraction era begins

    - Average close price: $34.72 (+9.6% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $370.90 (+8.2%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 74.5 metric tons (8.5% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: 310 metric tons (455 tons exported and 145 tons imported)

    Human beings have mined about 197,576 tons of gold over the course of history, about two-thirds of which was mined between 1950 and present-day. Post-war leaps forward in technology, science, and engineering would send the mining industry into an era of unprecedented production.

  • 1951: Treasury-Fed Accord

    - Average close price: $34.72 (0.0% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $343.80 (-7.3%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 61.6 metric tons (7.0% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: 474 metric tons (546 tons exported and 72 tons imported)

    During World War II, the Federal Reserve honored a Treasury Department request to keep interest rates low to stimulate war funding through Treasury Bills. In doing so, it forfeited a large degree of independence, which was necessary to shield monetary policy from political pressure. That year, however, the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve agreed at the Treasury-Fed Accord to separate monetary policy from government debt management, and the modern Fed was born.

  • 1952: New innovations emerge

    - Average close price: $34.60 (-0.3% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $336.14 (-2.2%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 58.9 metric tons (6.8% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -634 metric tons (24 tons exported and 658 tons imported)

    A technique first used in 1952 signaled the start of decades of innovation that helped the mining industry offset the decline of gold stores taken from depleted mines. That year, scientists and engineers discovered how to strip gold from granular activated carbon, allowing them to both harvest the gold and reuse the carbon.

  • 1953: Fort Knox audit

    - Average close price: $34.84 (+0.7% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $335.94 (-0.1%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 60.9 metric tons (7.0% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -15 metric tons (27 tons exported and 42 tons imported)

    In 1953, rumors that the government was selling gold from Fort Knox to pay outstanding World War II bills compelled President Dwight Eisenhower to allow an audit of the highly secretive, highly secure vault. There has never been a known audit of the gold in Fort Knox before or since.

  • 1954: Gold regulations revised

    - Average close price: $35.04 (+0.6% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $335.36 (-0.2%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 57.1 metric tons (5.9% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -18 metric tons (15 tons exported and 34 tons imported)

    In 1954, the Treasury Department amended FDR’s executive order from two decades prior that mandated government confiscation of gold from American citizens. The adjustment expanded the original exemption for rare, unusual coins to include those made prior to April 5, 1933—the exact date that FDR signed Executive Order 6102.

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  • 1955: San Francisco Mint ceases coining

    - Average close price: $35.03 (0.0% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $336.51 (+0.3%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 58.5 metric tons (6.2% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -86 metric tons (5 tons exported and 91 tons imported)

    In 1955, the San Francisco Mint stopped all coining operations. It would resume coin production a decade later in 1965, and in 1988, it regained its former status as a mint.

  • 1956: 'In God We Trust'

    - Average close price: $34.99 (-0.1% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $331.18 (-1.6%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 56.8 metric tons (5.8% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -93 metric tons (23 tons exported and 116 tons imported)

    In 1865, an act of Congress allowed the motto “In God We Trust” to be printed on all gold and silver coins minted in the United States. In 1956, the president approved a joint resolution of Congress to make this phrase the national motto.

  • 1957: Motto on the money

    - Average close price: $34.95 (-0.1% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $320.21 (-3.3%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 55.8 metric tons (5.5% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -91 metric tons (149 tons exported and 240 tons imported)

    One year later in 1957, the newly minted national motto began appearing on American money. “In God We Trust” was first printed on the one-dollar silver certificate and soon became standard on paper money and legal tender coins.

  • 1958: Exchange control elimination

    - Average close price: $35.10 (+0.4% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $312.68 (-2.4%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 54.1 metric tons (5.2% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -225 metric tons (28 tons exported and 253 tons imported)

    Fourteen years after a group of world leaders met in New Hampshire’s Bretton Woods to reshape global economic policy, the system they devised became fully operational. That year, exchange controls for current account transactions were eliminated, creating a complex system of international gold and cash deficits.

  • 1959: The gold drain

    - Average close price: $35.10 (0.0% compared to previous year)
    --- Inflation adjusted: $310.53 (-0.7%)
    - U.S. primary gold production: 49.9 metric tons (4.4% of world total)
    - U.S. secondary gold production: data not available
    - U.S. gold net exports: -262 metric tons (2 tons exported and 264 tons imported)

    The Bretton Woods compact set the price of gold at $35 an ounce, but it did not regulate gold as a commodity or account for natural price fluctuations. If prices topped $35 an ounce, foreign central banks would be incentivized to exchange U.S. currency for gold, then sell the gold for a profit. Throughout the 1950s, U.S. Treasury gold holdings were rapidly depleted, putting pressure on authorities to increase the exchange rate above the longstanding $35 mark.

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