It’s amazing how conspiracy theories seem to take on a life of their own. This is certainly true in the financial markets. There are all sorts of strange ideas that have grown from small beginnings to become widespread myths – even though they are wrong. Some of these myths have a grain of fact at the core, but in all cases the facts have been so distorted that they bear no resemblance to the truth. Here are some of the most common conspiracy theories. Which ones do you think to be true?
Fort Knox is empty
Fort Knox is home to the US gold reserve. However, it’s only been open three times since it was first built in 1935. Because of this, there is a theory that there is actually no gold there. Another variation is that the gold bars have been hollowed out and filled with tungsten – a much cheaper metal.
On the flipside – the Treasury’s Inspector General, Eric Thornton, visited the vault and confirmed that the gold was still there. He even testified to Congress under oath that everything was as it should be. The New York Fed has also done an audit on the gold, and has not reported any problems.
The Rothschilds run the world
The Rothschilds were and are a powerful family of bankers. In the 19th Century, they were responsible for giving Britain most of the funding it needed to fight against Napoleon – and they certainly had significant influence in other areas. Today, there are people who still believe that the family controls the international banking system and major governments.
However, the Rothschilds’ fortune has dwindled significantly since the 19th Century, and most of their activities today are philanthropic. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a single Rothschild family – there are many branches that are only loosely connected.
The US government is playing around with employment statistics
This one comes to us thanks to Rush Limbaugh. He suggested that the US government is applying seasonal adjustments to employment numbers to make it appears that the recovery is stronger than it actually is. While Limbaugh enjoys taking a shot at the Democrats, there’s absolutely no evidence for this.
The truth is that the US labor force does fluctuate throughout the year, as seasonal jobs, school openings and closings, and holidays all affect employment. The employment numbers are adjusted for this, since this makes it easier to see overall trends – it’s a standard methodology applied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The United States went to war with Iraq over oil
The second Gulf War was, according to some conspiracy theorists, started by the United States to gain access to Iraqi oil. ‘Weapons of mass destruction’ were just an excuse to invade the country.
Sceptics of this conspiracy theory are quick to point out that Iraq is a miniscule player compared to the top oil exporters to the US. As of 2015, Iraqi oil exports to the United States are running at about 220,000 barrels a day whereas Canada tops that list at about 3.2 million barrels a day, and Saudi Arabia comes in next at just over 900,000 barrels a day.
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