Dear Money & Crisis Reader,
Let’s say you have a box.
It’s big enough to fit one person, as well as a small carry-on bag.
The box can take you anywhere in the world instantly. But there’s a catch.
When you use the box, it doesn’t just travel around the world… it also moves back or forward in time.
What’s more, there’s no way to control where (or when) the box will go.
You could end up in Florence during the Italian Renaissance… or County Cork during the Irish War of Independence.
The only guarantee is that you’ll arrive near a civilization, somewhere during the course of human history. (So there’s no chance you’ll end up in some prehistoric jungle or empty desert.)
When you arrive, you’ll have to survive on your wits and the contents of your carry-on bag alone.
For the sake of this example, let’s say the bag is already packed with enough food and water to survive for a week or two, as well as a weapon to defend yourself.
All that’s left to pack is some spending money. But what kind of currency should you bring on a trip like this one?
The Jason Bourne Method
One option is to go down the super-spy route and simply stuff your carry-on with as many global currencies as you can — American dollars, euros, Swiss francs, Saudi Riyal, Chinese Yuan, etc.
With any luck, you’ll land in a time and place when these currencies are accepted.
But given the scope of human history, it’s far more likely that you’ll end up travelling to a time before — or even after — these currencies existed.
Heck, even if you have the right currency in the right place, that’s no guarantee that your money will be worth anything.
If you have a coin that was minted five years in the future, folks will brush it off as a convincing but flawed counterfeit. And if you end up travelling just a decade into the future, your money could be completely devalued by inflation.
Even if you had a way to manufacture currencies from different time periods, your carry-on only has limited space.
So, for every extra currency you add to your bag, you have to reduce the amount the other currencies in the bag — meaning you’ll have less spending money when you arrive at your destination.
Ideally, what you want is a universal currency that’s accepted all over the world… and has been for thousands of years.
Well the good news is… there is one.
Gold: The Universal Currency
The world has changed a lot in the last 5,000 years.
But the one thing that’s remained a constant is gold and its value as a tradeable commodity.
Government-backed paper and coin currencies rise and fall. But for as long as there has been civilization, folks have been trading with gold.
The Vikings used gold. The ancient Egyptians traded with gold as far back as 3,100 B.C. Even the ancient Mesopotamians mined and prized gold above all else.
There are many reasons this precious metal became so highly valued across multiple civilizations. But it can be boiled down to three main factors.
- Gold is dispersed widely throughout the world. Different cultures and civilizations all across the globe discovered gold completely independent of each other. Despite this, it was still rare enough to be highly valuable.
- Gold is soft and easy to work with. It occurs naturally in a pure and workable state, unlike most other metals which need to be smelted first.
- Gold’s brilliance and permanence (it neither corrodes nor tarnishes) made it the preferred metal for making ornaments — especially those made for royalty and religions. Because of this it became associated with high status.
All of these factors combined to give gold a universal appeal across cultures and civilizations.
It doesn’t matter what shape it’s in… or whose face is on it… or what government is in charge…
Gold is always gold.
Which is why, before you get in your box, you should fill your carry-on with as much gold as you can carry.
If your box lands in ancient Egypt — where the average salary was ten loaves of bread and one-third of a jug of beer per day — you could buy a tidy plot of land, build an extravagant home and hire ten or so servants… and you’d barely put a dent in your stash of gold.
Land in Norway around 800 A.D. and you could build a small town and rule over it as king.
Land 50 years in the future and…
And that’s the whole point of this exercise. There is no box, of course.
You’re never going to have to worry about buying a horse in medieval England.
But this little “thought experiment” is extremely useful when looking towards to the future.
It’s impossible to plan 100% for every single eventuality that may or not happen in our lifetime.
Maybe all the gold will evaporate in three or four years… or a nuclear war will devastate the surface of the planet and we won’t need any currency.
But looking to the past, there’s only one currency which has maintained its value throughout the ages.
Gold doesn’t require the backing of any bank, government, or brokerage firm. It cannot suffer a default or have its value fall to zero. And that’s why it’s such a crucial part of a robust Financial Emergency Kit (FEK).
If you haven’t added gold to your FEK yet, you can do so by clicking here.
As always, keep sending me those emails. They let me know what you want to read about and help me zero in on the most urgent problems we are facing together. Click here to send me one right now.
All the best,
Editor, Money & Crisis