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Have You Caught Gold Fever? The Value of That Shiny Metal Is as Artificial as Paper Money

The economic doomsters and investment advisers are engaged in a collective hallucination when they see growing value in gold.

Quick, check out this hot investment tip! For decades now, the Federal Reserve has been suppressing the true value of gold to keep its prodigious impact out of the market, which is currently dominated by fiat currencies like the dollar and light-speed binary code transactions like high-frequency trading. If you stripped away the Fed's continuing manipulation, gold's free-market value, currently hovering around $1,000 per ounce, would increase by multiples. Wait, are you yawning? Why are you leaving?

Here's why: This isn't news. The Federal Reserve, along with investment banks, hedge funds, governments and even you (yes, you), have not been just manipulating the so-called real value of gold and other financial instruments for decades, you've also been manipulating reality itself for centuries. Because gold is just chemical element, or a precious metal as it is called in the business, which means you can't eat, grow or use it to power your house or car.

But what gold is good for, and admittedly has been since the beginning of recorded history, is storing notional value: It is simply an idea made shiny, attractive, and up until our recent Great Depression rerun, pretty lucrative. In other words, it is a hyperreality, a consensual hallucination to borrow a term from novelist William Gibson. It has value as a currency because we decide it does, just like the fiat currency system that replaced it, not because of anything it can actually do on its own.

And the determined devaluation of that notional value has some goldbugs angry.

"The price of gold is largely determined by what people who do not have trust in fiat money system want to use for an escape out of any currency," explained Adrian Douglas, publisher of Market Force Analysis and member of the Gold Anti-Trust Action (GATA) committee's board of directors, in an article titled "More Fed Minutes Document Gold Market Manipulation." "They want to gain security through owning gold."

But as the War on Terror and return of the Great Depression have both shown us, security is often an illusion masking the subtraction of further freedoms and values. It tends to make a small percentage of people very rich, at the expense of others less fortunate. That includes those who cannot afford to pay over $1,000 an ounce for gold futures. Or physical gold, which goldbugs are hoarding for the day they foresee Neil Young's aforementioned knights in armor coming to collect their riches for a king, lately President Obama, demanding their total obedience to what Douglas described as the more democratic fiat money system.

These issues will doubtlessly be discussed when the Commodities Futures and Trade Commission (CFTC) holds public hearings on March 25 examining futures and options trading in the metals markets. On the docket? A presentation from GATA chairman Bill Murphy explaining massively unsustainable short positions in gold and silver from the usual suspects like HSBC, JP Morgan Chase and more, including the hated Goldman Sachs, ex-employer of current CFTC chairman Gary Gensler. Sure, this probably doesn't come as a shock to anyone familiar with those banks, and their regular practice of naked shorting everything else in financial reach at the expense of trillions in taxpayer bailouts. But for its part, the CFTC is staying out of the gold conspiracy theory for now.

"The idea is to hear what the public thinks the problems are in the markets," a CFTC spokesperson told AlterNet. "We won't question the motives of the people who participate in the hearings. We have panelists that are market participants, but this is just a public meeting."

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