It is not easy for the average person to make much sense out of the current international monetary system. It works something like a poker game. Everyone at the table has some chips. The green ones are supposed to be exchangeable at a ratio of 35 to one with the yellow chips. About half way into the game, the other players notice that the host has a machine at his feet that keeps popping out green chips every few minutes. Apparently the yellow chips can’t be cranked out this way, but the green ones can. So the host keeps on betting on every hand – deuces, fives, anything – and he keeps offering green chips to pay for staying in the game.
Now why would anyone in his right mind play a game like this? Well, for one thing, at present it is the only game in town. Second, the host’s name is Don Corleone, and it is not easy to leave while you’re ahead. He makes you an offer you just can’t refuse.
For example, he just says, “I hear you need protection.” In contemporary international affairs, the concept is generally referred to as “support for NATO,” but basically it is protection. So several of the players stay in the game.
The trouble really comes when somebody tries to get the host to exchange 35 green chips for one of the yellow chips. “I keep the yellow chips right here,” he says. “All right, I am a reasonable man; we can say that the yellow chip is now worth 42 green ones. Only do not try to exchange your green chips. The yellow chips stay right here.”
Under these circumstances, there is only one way to stay in the game competitively. All the players have to get one of those green chip machines. So they do. And no one, but no one, gives out any yellow chips for green chips.
And that is the international monetary system. Anyone got a pair of jacks to open?