Since printing paper money is nothing short of counterfeiting, the issuer of the international currency must always be the country with the military might to guarantee control over the system. This magnificent scheme seems the perfect system for obtaining perpetual wealth for the country that issues the de facto world currency. The one problem, however, is that such a system destroys the character of the counterfeiting nation’s people – just as was the case when gold was the currency and it was obtained by conquering other nations. And this destroys the incentive to save and produce, while encouraging debt and runaway welfare.
Here is the value of gold in real terms for the last 106 years (source):
Gold is not nearly as stable as people imagine. Now, if it were impossible to have a central bank insulated from politics, the gold standard would be a good alternative, but I think the last 25 years demonstrate that independent central banks are institutionally possible.
Addendum: Megan McArdle eloquently explains why she is against the gold standard. Here’s the core:
The gold standard cannot do what a well-run fiat currency can do, which is tailor the money supply to the economy’s demand for money. The supply of gold grows–or not–depending on how much of the stuff is mined. Demand also fluctuates for non-economic reasons; gold has uses besides being money, like industrial components and jewelry.