international monetary system

The Two-Tier System

During the 1960s, as U.S. commitments abroad drew gold reserves from the nation, confidence in the dollar weakened, leading some dollar-holding countries and speculators to seek exchange of their dollars for gold. A severe drain on U.S. gold reserves developed and, in order to correct the situation, the so-called two-tier system was created in 1968. In the official tier, consisting of central bank gold traders, the value of gold was set at $35 an ounce, and gold payments to noncentral bankers were prohibited. In the free-market tier, consisting of all nongovernmental gold traders, gold was completely demonetized, with its price set by supply and demand. Gold and the U.S. dollar remained the major reserve assets for the world's central banks, although Special Drawing Rights were created in the late 1960s as a new reserve currency. Despite such measures, the drain on U.S. gold reserves continued into the 1970s, and in 1971 the United States was forced to abandon gold convertibility, leaving the world without a single, unified international monetary system.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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