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(This article was taken from the section of the Wikipedia Gold article devited to its use in money. For the full article, see Gold.)
Gold has been widely used throughout the world as a vehicle for monetary exchange, either by issuance and recognition of gold coins or other bare metal quantities, or through gold-convertible paper instruments by establishing gold standards in which the total value of issued money is represented in a store of gold reserves.
However, production has not grown in relation to the world's economies. Today, gold mining output is declining. With the sharp growth of economies in the 20th century, and increasing foreign exchange, the world's gold reserves and their trading market have become a small fraction of all markets and fixed exchange rates of currencies to gold were no longer sustained.
At the beginning of World War I the warring nations moved to a fractional gold standard, inflating their currencies to finance the war effort. After World War II gold was replaced by a system of convertible currency following the Bretton Woods system. Gold standards and the direct convertibility of currencies to gold have been abandoned by world governments, being replaced by fiat currency in their stead. Switzerland was the last country to tie its currency to gold; it backed 40% of its value until the Swiss joined the International Monetary Fund in 1999.
Pure gold is too soft for day-to-day monetary use and is typically hardened by alloying with copper, silver or other base metals. The gold content of alloys is measured in carats (k). Pure gold is designated as 24k. English gold coins intended for circulation from 1526 into the 1930s were typically a standard 22k alloy called crown gold, for hardness (American gold coins for circulation after 1837 contained the slightly lower amount of 0.900 fine gold, or 21.6 kt).
- ↑ King, Byron (2009-07-20). "Gold mining decline". BullionVault.com. http://goldnews.bullionvault.com/gold_mine_production_072020092. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
- ↑ "Swiss Narrowly Vote to Drop Gold Standard". The New York Times. 1999-04-19. http://www.nytimes.com/1999/04/19/world/swiss-narrowly-vote-to-drop-gold-standard.html.
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