Since war's end, the economic health of the world's currencies has been measured by the fever chart of unofficial gold prices. As people lost faith in their currencies and the financial condition of their countries, they scrambled to convert paper money into gold. The price of gold in India, China, Greece and other nations rose as high as $70 an ounce, v. the official rate of $35.

While demanding that the International Monetary Fund boost the official rate, the gold-producing Union of South Africa devised a slick trick. To cash in on the high unofficial gold prices, yet not break...

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