Newly created money is used by the central bank to buy in the open market a financial asset, such as government bonds, foreign currency, or gold. If the central bank sells these assets in the open market, the amount of money that the purchasing bank holds decreases, effectively destroying money.
The gold standard cannot do what a well-run fiat currency can do, which is tailor the money supply to the economy's demand for money. The supply of gold grows--or not--depending on how much of the stuff is mined. Demand also fluctuates for non-economic reasons; gold has uses besides being money, like industrial components and jewelry.
The lone advantage of a gold standard--and it is a real advantage--is that it prevents governments from inflating the currency. The problem is, this is only moderately true. The government, after all, can always modify its gold standard. Yes, you say, but it will pay a price in the markets, and this is true, but this is the same price it pays when it prints more fiat currency. Such practices do not go unnoticed for long.
As James Hamilton has pointed out, gold-backed currencies, like all money with a fixed exchange rate, are subject to speculative attacks whenever the government's financial position looks weak. Such speculative attacks often require punitive economic measures to fight off, which is one of the reasons that America suffered so nastily from the Great Depression--it raised interest rates in the middle of a recession in order to defend the credibility of its currency.
Also, since devaluations tend to produce sharp changes in the values of currencies, rather than smooth appreciations or declines, the economic dislocations are magnified. Imagine you're a company with a contract denominated in dollars. If the value of the dollar gradually declines, you lose a little, but not too much, since you periodically renew the contract, giving you time to adjust the amounts. If, on the other hand, the devaluation pressure builds up over a period of years, and then all at once the government has to devalue by 20%, you end up badly hurt. You might go out of business. Now multiply that all across the country, and you can see why recessions used to last for years.
In short, you don't get anything out of a gold standard that you didn't bring with you. If your government is a credible steward of the money supply, you don't need it; and if it isn't, it won't be able to stay on it long anyway. (See Argentina's dollar peg). Meanwhile, the limitations on the government's ability to respond to fiscal crises, the necessity of defending against speculative attacks in times of crises, and the possibility of independent changes in the relative price of gold, make your economy more unstable. It's a terrible idea, which is why there are so few economists willing to raise their voices in support of it.
The head of the Fed Reserve does this.
He stands in the tower of a castle,
arms upraised before the fiscal cauldron,
in a green cape covered with cifrão.
With a flourish, he proclaims:
"Money, I call you into being! APPEAR!"
And there is the whir of paper and coins.
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