Because the Gold Standard entails that money be backed by a fixed price of gold, which has a finite supply, this means that the supply of money will be finite and will grow only as the supply of gold grows (which is hardly at all). So with a return to the Gold Standard, I expect:
1. People will rank their needs and demands in a strict hierarchy. Because of the Standard, people will equate money with gold, and will treat it accordingly. They will hoard and conserve it, and only use it for the most important things, such as for life-saving services.
2. If one part of the economy grows, another part will have to decline correspondingly. There just isn’t enough gold-backed money to go around. If some people become richer, others will correspondingly have to get poorer.
3. Global trade will stop to a standstill. No nation could anymore afford to have a trade deficit, because a deficit entails a loss of gold to the nation that incurs the surplus with them. A loss of gold, and the correspondingly money supply, means a deflation in their entire economy. So every nation will strive even more to be net exporters. No buyers will be left to trade with.
4. Eventually, in this kind of economy, people who still have to make a living will start bartering with one another. Or, and this is my pet speculation, people will eventually develop shadow currency systems. Or call it parallel payment systems. If a gold-backed currency only enables life-savers to get paid for their services, a shadow silver-backed currency will enable people to purchase and pay for education. A parallel copper or aluminum-backed currency will enable people to pay for home builders and tailors. Maybe a shadow currency based on rocks will let people pay for those who cut their hair.
Eventually, maybe even money based on belly lint will let them donate money to blog tip jars, and pay for more episodes of American Idol. Maybe then, only nations that are able to produce a surplus of belly lint can pay for their net imports of American Idol.
In other words, should we ever go back to a Gold Standard, I believe the market itself will form a fiat currency system to allow for more trades and businesses to flourish. Heck, if a shadow banking system can somehow flourish in a system that already has fiat currency, I believe a limited currency system will grow a shadow currency system. (Without a state to back them up though, they can unravel just like the shadow banking system)
What, did you think only those with gold will inherit the earth?
Update: I added this here: I would add that the state's option to be able to spend more, in place of disappearing private spenders during times of escalating private sector desire to save, is an invaluable lifeline during a severe depression, and if we had a gold standard, government spending will only likely crowd out what little private spending is still there.