Make Kitco Your Homepage

Treasury secretary who abolished gold standard: George Shultz dead at 100

Kitco News

George P. Shultz, who held many key roles in Republican administrations, died yesterday at 100, according to an announcement by the Hoover Institution.

Shultz was a secretary of labor and treasury under President Richard Nixon, as well as director of the Office of Management and Budget. He was Secretary of State under Reagan.

Shultz was born in New York City on December 13, 1920, and grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, according to a bio of Shultz provided by Hoover.

"He graduated from Princeton University in 1942 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and shortly after that enlisted in the US Marine Corps where he served through 1945. He then resumed his studies, this time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he earned a PhD in Industrial Economics in 1949. In 1955 he served as a senior staff economist on President Eisenhower’s Council of Economic Advisers. Shultz taught at MIT and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, where he became dean in 1962," writes Hoover.

"He returned to government when he was appointed Secretary of Labor by President Nixon in 1969. In June 1970, he became the first director of the newly formed Office of Management and Budget. In May 1972, he was named Secretary of the Treasury, a post he held for two years. During this period, Shultz also served as chairman of the Council on Economic Policy, negotiated a series of trade protocols with the Soviet Union, and represented the United States at the Tokyo meeting on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade."

While only treasury secretary for two years under Nixon, his term was consequential. Shultz and Paul Volcker, who was under secretary of the Treasury for international monetary affairs at the time, both supported Nixon's decision to abolish the gold standard. Called the Nixon Shock, the president implemented a wide range of economic policies in the early '70s to stop inflation. Wages and prices were frozen, a surchage on imports was implemented, and the U.S. dollar's direct convertability to gold was abolished. The result was a shift from the Bretton Woods system to an international regime of free-floating fiat currencies.

Shultz was out of office during Carter's presidency. When the Republicans regained the presidency under Reagan, Shultz served as Secretary of State. He then returned to private practise, rejoining the Bechtel Group as director and senior counselor.

"Over the past three decades, Shultz’s portfolio consisted of nuclear disarmament, climate change, developing a sensible energy policy, Arctic Ocean security, economics and international trade, plus how to better explain the value of free markets and fair treatment of labor for a nation trying to heal its social, racial and economic divides," writes the Hoover Institution.

He is survived by his wife, Charlotte Mailliard Shultz, his five children, Margaret Ann Tilsworth, Kathlee Pratt Shultz Jorgensen, Peter Milton Shultz, Barbara Lennox Shultz White, and Alexander George Shultz; eleven grandchildren, and nine great grandchildren. Shultz died at his home on the Stanford campus.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.