Several years ago, I had the honor of joining Mahathir Mohamad and a small group to celebrate his 90th birthday at a restaurant in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur. Mahathir was the longest-serving prime minister in Malaysian history, having been in office 22 years, from 1981–2003.
When we met in 2015, he was retired. Mahathir soon came out of retirement to become prime minister again in 2018, partly as a “cleanup” reaction to the extreme corruption of his successor, Najib Razak, who is currently awaiting trial on criminal charges.
My reason for meeting with Mahathir was his keen interest in the international monetary system and his search for some alternative to the current system, which is dominated by the U.S. dollar. In the course of our correspondence, I sent the prime minister an advance copy of my new book, Aftermath, which includes a section called “The Malaysia Plan.”
That section describes a gold standard for countries like Malaysia that do not have much physical gold. It also describes a path for multiple countries to join the Malaysia Plan to reconstitute something like the global gold standard that existed from 1870–1914 without the benefit of the IMF or any central institution.
I guess he read it! According to this article, Mahathir is now proposing a gold standard to be used for settling balance of payments among Asian trading partners without the use of U.S. dollars.
We’ll see how far this idea gets. For now, it’s just nice as an author to see your ideas go from the pages of a book to a potential economic reality.
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