Business: Shrinking Role for U.S. Money

Frenzy in the gold and currency markets heightens an urgent issue

From the harried canyons of Wall Street to the outwardly calm boardrooms of Zurich, the world's financial centers experienced a whiff of panic last week. In two days of frantic trading, the price of gold on the London exchange soared a breathtaking $50 per oz. to $447 at one point; then it plunged back down almost as steeply, closing the week at $385. Silver, platinum and copper also gyrated wildly. Said a New York bullion trader: "The market's gone bananas."

The madness, as usual,...

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