Yves here. Some financial markets commentators seem to be eagerly awaiting the dollar to collapse under the weight of the Fed’s monetary expansion. The wee problem with that view is that everyone knows that the party that trashes its currency gets a nice boost to its export sector, but it’s easy for this sort of behavior to devolve into “beggar thy neighbor” competitive devaluations (witness our recent finger-shaking at Japan). And since policy-makers in the major economies are deeply devoted to our current “free trade” system, the tacit assumption has been that we might see some jockeying within the current system, but no real breaks.
And the second major reason for the mainstream view that the dollar’s dominance is not at risk is that no other large economy wants the burden of serving as the reserve currency, which entails running trade deficits much of the time.
Nevertheless, a lot of countries resent the dollar hegemony. This post describes one effort to supplant it.
By Valentin Mândrăşescu, Editor of Reality Check @ The Voice of Russia. The article was edited by Wolf Richter and first published by Testosterone Pit.
The status of the US dollar as the world reserve currency gives the US a number of advantages over other countries. The world’s most important commodities are priced and traded in dollars, even if most of these commodities are not produced in the US. The fact that the world’s financial system is based on the dollar allows the Federal Reserve to export inflation to other countries, while the Federal Government runs a huge deficit with impunity.
So far, only China has been active in challenging the dollar supremacy. The internationalization of the yuan is an official priority of Chinese leaders. Currency swap agreements with major trade partners like Brazil, France, or Australia are small but important steps in the Chinese strategy. Changing the world financial system is not an easy task and certainly a very challenging undertaking for China. Now, it seems that Beijing has found an ally in the Kremlin. And there appears to be a consensus between the BRICS countries: the urgent necessity to dismantle the dollar system.
A week before the recent BRICS summit in Durban, the Kremlin administration has silently produced a document which describes the Russian strategy in the context of BRICS cooperation. The document makes for a fascinating read for anyone brave enough to plow through the dense Russian legalese. The strategy has been designed in the “inner circle” of Vladimir Putin’s team, so it is safe to assume that it represents the official view on the BRICS future.
In Russia, politics are Byzantine; the fact that the Kremlin decided not to hide the document or leak it to a chosen few journalists, but publish it outright is a very strong signal, a very vocal angry signal directed at the US. A signal that the Western media chose to ignore.
In the recitals section of the document, the authors point out that “there is a common desire of the BRICS partners to reform the outdated global financial and economic framework that doesn’t take into account the growing economic weight of the emerging markets.” Moreover, the Russian strategists view the BRICS as a tool to reform the way the world is being governed. Then the document hammers home its message:
Russia assumes that, given enough political will of the leadership of the BRICS countries to advance their cooperation, this alliance can become one of the key elements of a new system for global governance, primarily in the economic and financial domains.
Move aside New World Order! The BRICS are coming to change the world.
The goals are clear. In the section titled “Strategic goals,” the first point on the BRICS’ agenda is the reform of the world financial system in order to make it “fairer, more stable, and more efficient.” In the later chapters, it is spelled clearly that this “reform” is actually a dismantling of the dollar system.
It is worth noting that the place of this issue in the list of the BRICS’ priorities speaks volumes about its importance. Judging by the order of priorities, depriving the dollar of its status as the world reserve currency is more important than “preventing breaches of sovereignty” (a.k.a. the “Syrian problem”) or “expanding economic cooperation.”
The language used in this document indicates that it has been written or strongly influenced by Sergei Glaziev, the president’s economy advisor, who is known for masterminding the economic aspects of the Eurasian Union between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Glaziev has repeatedly accused Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke of starting “a currency war” against the emerging markets. He also believes that Bernanke’s policy will ultimately lead to a military confrontation: “the conservation logic of the current financial and political system leads to a further escalation of military and political tensions, including the start of a major war” (read more).
A whole chapter of the strategy document is dedicated to step-by-step instructions on dismantling the existing global financial system. The list of measures includes:
- Reformation of the world currency system in order to create a representative, stable and predictable system of world reserve currencies;
- Reduction of the risks of destabilization of currency and equity markets linked to massive cross-border flows of capital;
- Increasing the use of national currencies in the trade between BRICS countries;
- Increasing the level of cooperation between BRICS countries in order to promote their interest in the domain of world trade;
- Strengthening the BRICS Exchange Alliance;
- Creating independent rating agencies.
Since the Durban Summit, at least one of those measures has been implemented: RT reported that “China’s Dagong Global Credit Rating agency is to set up the joint venture with US-based Egan-Jones Ratings Co (EJR) and Russia’s RusRating JSC to challenge the three major US ratings agencies.” As BRICS countries try to achieve the rest of their stated goals, it remains to be seen if the dollar system survives the joint onslaught of the biggest emerging economies. By Valentin Mândrăşescu, author of the pungent article on the inner machinations of Russia…. Cyprus: A Triumph For Russian Isolationists