Distrust of the Federal Reserve and concern that U.S. dollars may become worthless are fueling a push in more than a dozen states to recognize gold and silver coins as legal tender.
Arizona is poised to follow Utah, which authorized bullion for currency in 2011. Similar bills are advancing in Kansas, South Carolina and other states.
The measures backed by the limited-government Tea Party movement are mostly symbolic — you still can’t pay for groceries with gold in Utah. They reflect lingering dollar concerns, amplified by the Fed’s unconventional moves in recent years to stabilize the economy, said Loren Gatch, who teaches politics at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“The legislation is about signaling discontent with monetary policy and about what Ben Bernanke is doing,” said Gatch, who studies alternative currencies at the Edmond, Oklahoma-based school. “There is a fear that the government, or Bernanke in particular and the Federal Reserve, is pursuing a policy that will lead to the collapse of the dollar. That’s what is behind it.”
Bernanke has pushed interest rates to near zero since the 18-month recession that began in December 2007. The Fed said in March it would continue buying $85 billion in securities each month in a program known as quantitative easing that has ballooned its assets beyond $3 trillion and is aimed at keeping long-term borrowing costs low to support economic growth.