It’s not unusual for Euro Pacific Capital’s Peter Schiff to praise precious metals and warn investors of the dollar’s deteriorating value; his stance is well-known and his opinions are widely regarded. Still, advising folks to renounce fiat money altogether is, even for Schiff, particularly audacious.

Perhaps we ought to expect the unexpected from Mr. Schiff by now, but his recent conversation with RT raised more than a few eyebrows. In it, Schiff cited rising inflation pressures and the lack of demand in the bond market as potential catalysts for gold’s next move – fair enough. Then, however, came a bombshell that even I (jaded as I’ve become) didn’t expect.

“All of this is very bullish for gold and so rather than simply selling bonds, people should be buying gold because they need to get out of the dollar,” declared Schiff. In case that didn’t sufficiently startle you, Schiff followed this up with: “In fact, they need to get out of the fiat currencies in general and seek a real safe haven – and that’s gold.”

Now, I’ll be the last person to denigrate gold as a safe haven: a 5,000-year history of inflation resistance and value retention is unmatched by any fiat currency. Market cycles and asset bubbles will come and go, and the universally recognized yellow metal will outlast them all.

In a time when economic data and stock-market valuations are wholly disconnected, moreover, gold ownership as a hedge against mean reversion certainly isn’t the world’s worst idea:

I also won’t dispute any contention that the American greenback is prone to devaluation over the long term. Sure, the dollar’s shown strength over the past year and a half, but that’s relative to other fiat currencies; this only singles the dollar out as the best among a group of poor performers.

President Trump has decried the dollar’s relative strength as a source of weakness for the nation’s economy, tweeting, “the Euro and other currencies are devalued against the dollar, putting the U.S. at a big disadvantage.” In a similar vein, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declared that a “weaker dollar is good for us as it relates to trade and opportunities” – so it’s no secret that the current administration wants a competitively priced dollar, though this alone might not be sufficient cause for Americans to start dumping their paper money.

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    Even for those of us who may support the spirit of Schiff’s anti-fiat recommendation, practical concerns are likely a prohibitive factor. Gold has been used as money before and may be used as currency again someday, and Bitcoin holds promise as a fiat alternative, but government debt notes dominate commerce despite their evident shortcomings.

    No currency dominates forever, though, no matter how powerful its hold on international commerce and individual habits may be at the moment. It’s hard to function in America without dollars, but someday America will have to function without dollars.

    Perhaps, then, Schiff’s advice need not be taken literally, but only as call to action for the cash-flush and hedge-poor: diversify or die, as someday your precious fiat money will be worth no more than the paper it’s printed on – a trope that might actually be an overestimation of the dollar, and an insult to paper.

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