Gold: Barriers Up & Down

Gold—man's ancient measure of national wealth and power—prodded France and the U.S. along opposite economic paths last week.

The French dealt from strength. After 30 years of controls, the government restored freedom to the franc and, to the surprise of moneymen everywhere, abolished controls over gold as well. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve Board reported a symptom of weakness: the nation's gold stock fell another $571 million last year, to $13.2 billion, the lowest level since 1937.

By dropping all barriers to the import and export of francs and securities, and by ending restrictions against converting the franc into other...

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