My notes:

  • All the gold ever mined amounts to about 125,000 tons, or about one-millionth of the amount of steel produced in a year.
  • The difficulty of mining gold makes it a good store of value (very little inflation). It’s relative uselessness makes it a good currency (unlike say, cigarettes or oil).
  • At times when there was a rapid increase in the supply of gold (e.g. the Californian, Australian, and South African gold rushes), it still grew slower than (a) the overall rate of the economy and (b) demand (due to popularity of the gold standard).
  • In 1859, with production from California, Australia, and Siberia, gold output was 275 tons–a 10x increase from a century before.
  • In the nineteenth century, news spread very slowly over land: word of Sutter’s mill reached Australia before the first gold deposits from California arrived in DC. Most Americans learned of gold in California from Polk’s 1849 State of the Union address.