By Mike Whitney
October 19, 2009 “Information Clearing House” — The dollar is not going to crash. There may be grumblings in foreign capitals and “secret meetings” between finance ministers but, for now, the dollar appears to be safe.
Foreign countries don’t trade in dollars because they like America. They do it because they have no choice. If they want oil, they need dollars; it’s as simple as that.
It’s great to talk about a “basket of currencies” replacing the dollar, but that’s still a work-in-progress. It might happen, or it might not; no one really knows. What’s clear, is that we still live in dollar-centric world where paper claims on wealth are arbitrarily increased at will by a handful of unelected officials at the Federal Reserve. It’s a process which relies more on Gutenberg than moral authority.
There’s no sign that the dollar is about to lose its position as the world’s reserve currency. For that to happen, central banks would have to start unloading US Treasuries, which they are not. Despite record government spending and mushrooming deficits, there is still a strong appetite for US debt. Treasury data show that foreigners purchased $28.6 billion more in US assets in August than they did in June. The flows are not enough to offset downward pressure on the dollar, but that could change in the months ahead. As capital flows increase, dangerous imbalances will reemerge, and the prospect of another financial calamity will become more likely. The Fed is rebuilding the system that just blew up using the same blueprint as before. It’s madness.
World leaders and central bankers mutter about Fed policies, but do nothing. There’s been no resistance to the secrecy, the bailouts or the money printing. The bottom line is that the people in power really don’t want change. They just want to make speeches and blame America. It’s all just empty posturing.
What difference does it make if China and Russia are unhappy? Who gives a hoot? Toppling the dollar is going to take a concerted effort by people who truly despise the system, not the blather of malcontents who are simply envious of US power. Putin doesn’t want to change the “reserve currency” system, he just wants a spot on the Executive Board so he can extract tribute from emerging nations like the US has for more than a century.
The financial crisis hasn’t hurt the dollar a bit. The dollar isn’t getting weaker because people are dumping it, but because Fed chief Bernanke is managing its value downward to increase exports and reduce the true cost of household and financial sector debt. What doomsayers are calling a “crash” is really just part of the Fed’s plan.
The rest of the world should have chucked the present system and kicked the dollar to the curb more than a year ago when Lehman Bros. collapsed. But they didn’t, because they were afraid to face their own future without holding onto Uncle Sam’s hand. If they really wanted to stand on their own two feet, they’d pile their Treasuries and greenbacks in a heap and set them ablaze. That’s what freedom looks like.
The reserve currency system sucks. It creates a de facto international currency which elevates one country above all others giving it special access to credit and implicit control over the global economic system. It inevitably leads to exploitation, abuse of power and systemic instability.
The dollar should have been crushed when the opportunity presented itself. Now, the the window has closed and it’s back to business as usual.