The problem with the USD being the world’s reserve currency is that it’s a situation where things could unravel very suddenly. So long as most investors think that the dollar will be OK next week, then it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But if people start to worry, then there could be a sudden crash as people head for the exits. Thus the USD system is like a giant commercial bank subject to a run, whenever the public loses confidence.
In that context, it’s interesting to relate three recent news items:
==> ZeroHedge reported on this exchange (in an interview in a French magazine) with Christian Noyer, governor of the French National Bank and member of the ECB’s governing board:
==> The German government recently decided to keep its gold stored in the US after all, but Gary North explains the irony of that decision.
==> Russia and China made a major energy deal that didn’t involve the US dollar. Here’s how a Telegraph article analyzes the significance:
With the dollar as the world’s petrocurrency, it also remains the reserve currency of choice for central banks globally. As such, the US is currently able to borrow with “exorbitant privilege”, as it has for decades, simply printing money to pay off foreign creditors.
With China now the world’s biggest oil importer and the US increasingly stressing domestic production, the days of dollar-priced energy, and therefore dollar-dominance, look numbered. Beijing has recently struck numerous agreements with major trading partners such as Brazil that bypass the dollar. Moscow and Beijing have also set up rouble-yuan swap facilities that push the greenback out of the picture.
If Russia and China now decide to drop dollar energy pricing totally, America’s reserve currency status could unravel fast, seriously undermining the US Treasury market and causing a world of pain for the West. This won’t happen tomorrow or next year. It’s unlikely even by 2020. But by announcing this deal, Russia and China turned the screw half a twist more.