The Economy: Who Has the World's Gold?

When we conquer on a world scale, I think we shall use gold for the purpose of building public lavatories in the streets of large cities.

—Lenin

HALF a century after the prophet of Communism scorned the ultimate symbol of capitalism, gold continues to exert a glittering fascination. To many governments, gold signifies the most reliable unit of foreign exchange. To many individuals, gold means security—an immutable and indestructible form of wealth.

In France, for example, a century of wars, devaluations and inflations has left many people with an almost religious reverence for gold. An estimated $4.5 billion worth of the metal is secreted...

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