The Secretary of the Treasury is “to maintain the equal purchasing power of each kind of United States currency.” 31 U.S.C. 5119(a). Significantly, this statutory mandate invokes the market test of “purchasing power”, not merely parity of nominal face value. To this end, Congress has provided the secretary with a variety of statutory tools. These include the directive to buy and sell precious metals from the country’s reserves (Id.) as well as the requirement that all proceeds from the sale of gold be used “for the sole purpose of reducing the national debt.” 31 U.S.C. § 5116(2) (Reagan’s Golden Rule).
Nevertheless, as a result of the secretary’s failure to make effective use of these statutory prerogatives, the purchasing power of the various U.S. currencies currently in circulation, particularly that of specie legal tender in contrast to that of the fiat paper currency, has increasingly diverged over the past several decades, which creates hazards as well as opportunities for individuals, businesses, and governmental entities alike.