Business Insider just posted a Deutsche Bank chart that illustrates the difference between life under the Classical Gold Standard and today’s “modern” forms of money. It’s for the UK only but is a pretty good representation of the world in general:
For the first four hundred years depicted here, money was gold and silver — the quantity of which rose at roughly the same rate as the human population. Prices during that time fluctuated, but only modestly by today’s standards, and they always returned to more-or-less the same level. In other words, money held its value for not just years but centuries. It was a fixed aspect of the financial environment and was therefore not a tool of economic policy. Governments and individuals had to adapt to unchanging money rather than forcing money to adapt to political circumstances.
A phase change occurs in the 20th century when the US created the Federal Reserve and World Wars I and II placed survival above monetary stability for most of Europe and Asia. Violent swings in the value of money became the norm, and with the subsequent worldwide