Posts tagged: dollar

Dollar’s Days as the World’s Reserve Currency Are Far From Over

Via The Economist:

Worries about the dollar’s dominance of the global monetary system are not new. But debate about replacing the beleaguered dollar, whose trade-weighted value has dropped by 11.5% since its peak in March 2009, has resurfaced in the wake of a global financial and economic crisis that began in America. China and Russia, which have huge reserves that are mainly dollar denominated, have talked about shifting away from the greenback. India changed the composition of its reserves by buying 200 tonnes of gold from the IMF.

None of this threatens the dominance of the dollar yet, particularly as a dramatic shift out of the currency would be damaging to the countries (such as China) that hold a huge amount of dollar-denominated assets. But a new paper by economists at the IMF, released on Wednesday November 11th, acknowledges that the global crisis has reignited the debate about anchoring the world’s monetary system on one country’s currency.

Some say that America’s role as the principal issuer of the global reserve currency gives it an unfair advantage. America has a unique ability to borrow from foreigners in its own currency, and wins when the dollar depreciates, since its assets are mainly in foreign currency and its liabilities in dollars. By one estimate America enjoyed a net capital gain of around $1 trillion from the gradual depreciation of the dollar in the years before the crisis.

In a sense the world is hostage to America’s ability to maintain the value of the dollar. But as the IMF points out, the currency’s primacy arises at least partly because China and other emerging countries have chosen to accumulate dollar reserves. The depth of America’s financial markets and the country’s open capital account have made the dollar attractive. So some of the advantage has been earned.

But large and persistent surpluses in countries like China mean continued demand for American assets, reducing the need for fiscal adjustment by either country. This, in turn, has contributed to the build-up of the macroeconomic imbalances that many blame for the financial crisis.

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The Rumours of the Dollar’s Death Are Much Exaggerated

Via Martin Wolf in FT.com:

The dollar’s correction is not just natural; it is helpful. It will lower the risk of deflation in the US and facilitate the correction of the global “imbalances” that helped cause the crisis. I agree with a forthcoming article by Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute for International Economics that “huge inflows of foreign capital to the US facilitated the over-leveraging and underpricing of risk”.* Even those who are sceptical of this agree that the US needs export-led growth.

Finally, what can replace the dollar? Unless and until China removes exchange controls and develops deep and liquid financial markets – probably a generation away – the euro is the dollar’s only serious competitor. At present, 65 per cent of the world’s reserves are in dollars and 25 per cent in euros. Yes, there could be some shift. But it is likely to be slow. The eurozone also has high fiscal deficits and debts. The dollar will exist 30 years from now; the euro’s fate is less certain.

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