jamessaft1.jpg(James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own)

Auditing the Federal Reserve may or may not be a good idea, but one thing seems pretty sure: just discussing it seriously will tend to drive the price of gold higher.

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee last week voted to approve an amendment that would bring about an audit of the Fed, its monetary policy and lending programs, since when gold has gone its merry way higher, hitting an all-time high of $1,174 per ounce on Monday.

The amendment, a provision to a broader financial services reform bill that is still under consideration, was co-sponsored by Republican Representative Ron Paul, author of the book “End the Fed,” and the man least likely to be found chairing a panel at Jackson Hole or Davos.

The Fed, understandably, hates the idea, saying it will compromise its hard-won independence, the administration loathes it, and really it will almost certainly never become effective in a recognizable form.

Even so, and even interpreting the vote as a populist cry of the heart against Washington and Wall Street, the fact that it has gotten this far will cause some serious people without an ideological dog in the Federal Reserve fight to buy a bit of gold, which is really a sort of anti-currency, as a hedge against increased political influence in the process of making monetary policy.