From an earlier post, point 4:
“We hate you guys. Once you start issuing $1 trillion-$2 trillion [$1,000bn-$2,000bn] . . .we know the dollar is going to depreciate, so we hate you guys but there is nothing much we can do.” [emphasis mine]
So said Mr. Luo, a director-general at the China Banking Regulatory Commission. I’ve been saying for a long time that China is stuck, and that we are their problem, and not vice-versa. There may come a point where they stop buying US Dollar-denominated debt, and let existing debt mature, but that will come after a shift in their own economy where they are no longer driven bythe promotion of their exports. There aren’t many large good alternatives to US debt for parking the proceeds from exporting aggressively.
So today, we get another volley from China as they realize that they are stuck holding US Dollar denominated assets that they are more certain than ever will depreciate. They see injustice in having bought too many dollars in exchange for the exports they paid to promote to the US. Excerpting from the article:
People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said he wants to replace the dollar, installed as the reserve currencyWorld War II, with a different standard run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). after
China, the top holder of US Treasury bonds with 739.6 billion dollars as of January, according to American figures, earlier expressed concern over its investment as the world’s largest economy battles a deep recession.
“The outbreak of the crisis and its spillover to the entire world reflected the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system,” Zhou wrote in an essay posted on the bank’s website Monday.
Zhou’s comments come ahead of the G20 summit from April 2 in London, where world leaders and international organisations including the IMF are to discuss reforming the financial system.
He suggested the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, or SDR, could serve as a super-sovereign reserve currency as it would not be easily influenced by the policies of individual countries.
Russia has also proposed the summit discuss creating a supranational reserve currency. The IMF created the SDR as an international reserve asset in 1969, but it is only used by governments and international institutions.
“The reform should be guided by a grand vision and start with specific deliverables,” Zhou wrote. “It should be a gradual process that yields win-win results for all.”
However, China’s proposal was unlikely to lead anywhere because the SDR is not a currency system backed up by a government, independent Shanghai-based economist Andy Xie said.
Xie said the proposal was probably a protest aimed at Washington’s plan to buy one trillion dollars of its own debt, diluting the value of China’s dollar reserves and raising fears of inflation.
“It’s a sad situation: China is America’s banker. America owes so much to China, but it’s not afraid of China,” he said. “China is America’s hostage. It’s not the other way around.” [emphasis mine]
As the world’s main reserve currency, US dollars account for most governments’ foreign exchange reserves and are used to set international market prices for oil, gold and other currencies.
As the issuer of the reserve currency, the US pays less for products and borrows more easily.
Strategic Drawing Rights are a cute idea, but it would be too small to support global trade. Like the Euro, it is a political construct, but one with less dedicated political and economic support.
As I commented in my piece, It is Good to be the World’s Reserve Currency, there’s no good alternative to the US Dollar yet. Like the mercantilists of old, who bought gold dear, and sold it cheaply, so will it be for China — they bought US Dollar claims dear, but will sell them more cheaply. This is the price of forced industrialization.
There will come a time when the US Dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, but there needs to be a worthy competitor, or a willingness to do without a single clearing unit. This is an age of computers, so there does not need to be a single dominant unit of exchange, but habits die hard. It will probably take some disaster to dislodge the US Dollar, and force the changeover. Whether that comes through inflation, default, partial default, or war remains to be seen.