A gold standard is a monetary system where each unit of currency is exchangeable for a set amount of gold. The U.S. and many other nations used a gold standard until the first World War. The economic pressures of the war and the Great Depression forced most nations to abandon their gold standards.
The U.S. officially abandoned its gold standard in 1971. Since that time, most of the world’s currencies are fiat currencies that derive their value from the market according to the principles of supply and demand. Of the nation’s not floating their currency freely, most are pegged to another currency or a basket of currencies.
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