Category Archives: Currencies

Russia’s intentions are clarifying, by Alasdair Macleod

The Russians have a not-so-secret weapon that would devastate the U.S.: back the ruble with gold. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

We have confirmation from the highest sources that Russia and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) are considering using gold for pan-Asian trade settlements, fully replacing dollars and euros.

In an article written for Vedomosti, a Moscow-based Russian newspaper published on 27 December, Sergey Glazyev, a prominent economic adviser to Vladimir Putin who is heading up the Eurasian Economic Union committee charged with devising a replacement for dollars in trade settlements sent a very clear signal to that effect. It appears he will drop earlier plans to design a new commodity-linked trade currency because it has been superseded.

Furthermore, increasing numbers of nations have joined or have applied to join the SCO as dialog members, including Saudi Arabia and other important Gulf Cooperation Organisation members. The economic benefits of discounted energy, China’s investment capital, and sound money are the ingredients for a new, Asia-wide industrial revolution, while the economies of the western alliance sink under rising prices, rising interest rates, collapsing financial markets, and collapsing currencies.

While it will mark the end of the road for the western alliance and its fiat currencies, Putin must be careful not to take the blame. Now that the alliance is racking up tanks and other equipment for the Ukrainians, they are actively promoting a new battle, with NATO getting almost directly involved. It is that action which will drive up commodity prices, undermine western financial markets, undermine government finances, and ultimately collapse their currencies. 

Putin is likely to use NATO’s impetuous action in defence of Ukraine as cover for securing Russia’s future as an Asian superstate, which will be the west’s undoing.

Introduction

We forget, perhaps, that from 1 March 1950 the Soviet rouble was on a gold standard at 4 roubles 45 kopecks for 1 gram of pure gold until 1961, when Khrushchev devalued it and refixed it to the dollar. Stalin had been a signatory to the Bretton Woods agreement but refused to join it and make the rouble subservient to the dollar as its intermediary for a gold standard.

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The Most Egregious Mistake, by Alastair Crooke

Without the reserve currency, U.S. power will be greatly diminished and the government will have to come to terms with a multipolar world. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The U.S. government is hostage to its financial hegemony in a way that is rarely fully understood.

It is the miscalculation of this era – one that may begin the collapse of dollar primacy, and therefore, global compliance with U.S. political demands, too. But its most grievous content is that it corners the U.S. into promoting dangerous Ukrainian escalation against Russia directly (i.e. Crimea).

Washington dares not – indeed cannot – yield on dollar primacy, the ultimate signifier for ‘American decline’. And so the U.S. government is hostage to its financial hegemony in a way that is rarely fully understood.

The Biden Team cannot withdraw its fantastical narrative of Russia’s imminent humiliation; they have bet the House on it. Yet it has become an existential issue for the U.S. precisely because of this egregious initial miscalculation that has been subsequently levered-up into a preposterous narrative of a floundering, at any moment ‘collapsing’ Russia.

What then is this ‘Great Surprise’ – the almost completely unforeseen event of recent geo-politics that has so shaken U.S. expectations, and which takes the world to the precipice?

It is, in a word, Resilience. The Resilience displayed by the Russian economy after the West had committed the entire weight of its financial resources to crushing Russia. The West bore down on Russia in every conceivable way – via financial, cultural and psychological war – and with real military war as the follow-through.

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A Dollar Collapse Is Now In Motion – Saudi Arabia Signals The End Of Petro Status, by Brandon Smith

More and more countries are signalling that they no longer want to trade real commodities, particularly oil, for pieces of paper or computer entries. From Brandon Smith at alt-market.com:

The decline of a currency’s world reserve status is often a long process rife with denials. There are numerous economic “experts” out there that have been dismissing any and all warnings of dollar collapse for years. They just don’t get it, or they don’t want to get it. The idea that the US currency could ever be dethroned as the defacto global trade mechanism is impossible in their minds.

One of the key pillars keeping the dollar in place as the world reserve is its petro-status, and this factor is often held up as the reason why the Greenback cannot fail. The other argument is that the dollar is backed by the full force of the US military, and the US military is backed by the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve – In other words, the dollar is backed by…the dollar; it’s a very circular and naive position.

These sentiments are not only pervasive among mainstream economists, they are also all over the place within the alternative media. I suspect the main hang-up for liberty movement analysts is the notion that the globalist establishment would ever allow the dollar or the US economy to fail. Isn’t the dollar system their “golden goose”?

The answer is no, it is NOT their golden goose. The dollar is just another stepping stone towards their goal of a one-world economy and a one-world currency. They have killed the world reserve status of other currencies in the past, why wouldn’t they do the same to the dollar?

Globalist white papers and essays specifically outline the need for a diminished role for the US currency as well as a decline in the American economy in order to make way for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and a new global currency system controlled by the IMF. I warned about this years go, and my position has always been that the derailment of the dollar would likely start with the end of its petro status.

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Dollar Hegemony, Saudi Arabia, Oil, and Ron Paul, by Adam Dick

The world has grown tired of U.S. hegemony and its reserve currency exorbitant privilege. From Adam Dick at ronpaulinstitute.org:

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Interviewed Tuesday at Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan indicated that Saudi Arabia would be open to conducting trade, including involving oil, in various currencies — mentioning in particular the euro and the Saudi riyal — instead of the United States dollar. This is the latest in a series of developments suggesting the Middle East nation and large oil producer is shifting away from supporting US dollar hegemony through trade.

In February of 2006, then US House of Representatives member Ron Paul (R-TX) discussed the history of US dollar hegemony and its looming doom in a House floor speech titled “The End of Dollar Hegemony.” Paul began his speech with his assessment that the dollar dominance, called dollar hegemony more recently and dollar diplomacy in earlier decades of the prior hundred years, “is coming to an end.”

The full history and analysis Paul related in the speech is fascinating. But, there is a particular portion of Paul’s speech that relates to the Saudi finance minister’s comment. This is when Paul focused on the key role the trade of oil has played in supporting dollar hegemony and the related position of the US dollar as the world reserve currency.

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Contrarian Thoughts on the Petro-Yuan and Gold-Backed Currencies, by Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith has a pretty good handle on how currencies work. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

Rather than cheer the concept of a new currency, we’re better served to look at the velocity of that currency and the cycles of investing that currency in assets denominated in that currency for a low-risk return.

Longtime readers know not to expect me to rubber-stamp anything, be it the status quo or proposed alternatives. Our interests are best served by screening everything through the mesh of independent analysis, a.k.a. contrarianism. Which brings us to the two sources of alt-media excitement in the currency space, the petro-yuan and another wave of proposed gold-backed currencies.

I’m all for competing currencies. The more transparent and open the market for currencies, the better. In my view, everyone should be able to buy and trade whatever currencies they feel best suits their goals and purposes.

In all the excitement over de-dollarization, some basics tend to get overlooked.

1. The yuan remains pegged to the US dollar, so it remains a proxy for the USD. It will only become a true reserve currency when China lets the yuan float freely on the global FX market and yuan-denominated bonds also float freely on global bond markets. In other words, a currency can only be a reserve currency rather than a proxy if the price and risk of the currency is discovered by global markets, not centralized monetary/state authorities.

2. Most commentators stop on first base of the oil-currency cycle: China buys oil from exporting nations by exchanging yuan for oil. So far so good. But what can the oil exporters do with the yuan? That’s the tricky part: the petro-yuan has to work not just for China but for the oil exporters who will be accumulating billions of yuan.

The oil exporters can hold some yuan as reserves, but the global market for yuan is not very large. What assets can they buy with yuan? Again, the global market of assets denominated in yuan is limited. The oil exporters can buy assets in China, of course, but with China’s property bubble finally popping, deglobalization sapping its export sector and Xi’s widespread disruption of private capital, the bloom is off the China Story in fundamental ways.

Why would oil exporters invest billions of yuan while Chinese wealth is leaving China?

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Global South: Gold-backed currencies to replace the US dollar, by Pepe Escobar

Keep in mind that a currency isn’t “gold-backed” unless it’s exchangeable for gold from the issuer. We’re still a long way from that. From Pepe Escobar at thecradle.co:

The adoption of commodity-backed currencies by the Global South could upend the US dollar’s dominance and level the playing field in international trade.

https://media.thecradle.co/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/the-power-of-BRICS-3.jpg

Photo Credit: The Cradle
Let’s start with three interconnected multipolar-driven facts.

First: One of the key take aways from the World Economic Forum annual shindig in Davos, Switzerland is when Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, on a panel on “Saudi Arabia’s Transformation,” made it clear that Riyadh “will consider trading in currencies other than the US dollar.”

So is the petroyuan finally at hand? Possibly, but Al-Jadaan wisely opted for careful hedging: “We enjoy a very strategic relationship with China and we enjoy that same strategic relationship with other nations including the US and we want to develop that with Europe and other countries.”

Second: The Central Banks of Iran and Russia are studying the adoption of a “stable coin” for foreign trade settlements, replacing the US dollar, the ruble and the rial. The crypto crowd is already up in arms, mulling the pros and cons of a gold-backed central bank digital currency (CBDC) for trade that will be in fact impervious to the weaponized US dollar.

A gold-backed digital currency

The really attractive issue here is that this gold-backed digital currency would be particularly effective in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Astrakhan, in the Caspian Sea.

Astrakhan is the key Russian port participating in the International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC), with Russia processing cargo travelling across Iran in merchant ships all the way to West Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean and South Asia.

The success of the INSTC – progressively tied to a gold-backed CBDC – will largely hinge on whether scores of Asian, West Asian and African nations refuse to apply US-dictated sanctions on both Russia and Iran.

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Explaining Multipolarity, Decline of US Hegemony, by Michael Hudson

The U.S. is going to be less important, the rest of the world more important. From an interview between Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson at unz.com:

Transcript

RADHIKA DESAI: Hi everyone, and welcome to this Geopolitical Economy Hour. I’m Radhika Desai.

MICHAEL HUDSON: And I’m Michael Hudson.

RADHIKA DESAI: Every fortnight we are going to meet for an hour to discuss major development in the fast-changing geopolitical economy of our 21st-century world.

We’ll discuss international developments. We’ll discuss their roots in individual countries and regions. We will try to uncover the reality beneath the usually distorting representation of these developments in the dominant Western media.

We plan to discuss many subjects: inflation, oil prices, de-dollarization, the outcome of the war over Ukraine which is going to determine so many things, the threats the U.S. is making against China about Taiwan, China’s increasingly prominent role in the world, how China’s Belt and Road Initiative is going to reshape it, how Western alliances and the Western-dominated world that was built over the past couple of centuries is so rapidly fracturing.

We’ll discuss financialization, the West’s productive decline. Many important things. Michael, am I leaving any important things out?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well we have been talking about this for many decades. Already in 1978 I wrote a book, Global Fracture, about how the world is dividing into two parts. But that time, other countries were trying to break free so they could follow their own developments.

And today it’s the United States that is isolating other countries – not only China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, but now the Global South – so the United States has ended up isolating itself from the rest.

What we’re going to talk about is how this is not only a geographic split, but a split of economic systems and economic philosophies. We’re going to talk about what the characteristics and the policies [are] that are shaping this new global fracture.

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What About Environmental Concerns Over Crypto Mining? By Paul Rosenberg

If you don’t think the supposed environmental concerns about crypto mining are just cover for governments to try to regulate cryptocurrencies, you don’t read enough alternative media. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

I learned long ago that when institutions decide to ride a subject, they can do so mercilessly. By endless repetition people are worn down into compliance… and then into defense of their compliance. I’ve seen it too many times.

And so, seeing them harping on “Bitcoin isn’t environmentally friendly,” I feel a need to defend reality, before it’s overrun yet again.

Let’s start with some basic engineering, so you can see that it isn’t people on my side who are making wild assertions, but people on the institutional side.

“So Much Electricity”

You can substitute electricity for carbon, by the way. The people behind these things simply use whatever words will be best for reaching their goal. That’s why they moved from “global warming” to “climate change,” for example.

So, let’s look at electricity:

The first thing to know is this: If you want to do something about electrical loads (loads being things that demand electricity: anything from a light bulb to a giant electrical motor), you have to start with air conditioning. Far, far more electricity is used for cooling than it is for crypto mining. So, let’s go full stop right here:

Any ‘decarbonizing’ campaign that ignores air conditioning is a fraud.

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3 Things Most People Don’t Know About Gold, Bitcoin, and Money, by Nick Giambruno

In the coming collapse, Bitcoin may be a better way to transact and preserve wealth than gold. Or it may not, but it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about both. From Nick Gaimbruno at internationalman.com:

Bitcoin has been likened to the platypus… which sounds like an odd comparison.

The platypus is a strange duck-billed mammal with webbed feet and a furry body like a beaver. It has characteristics of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Females lay eggs but also nurse their young with milk. Males produce a potent venom.

When Europeans discovered the platypus in Australia in 1798, they wrote letters to folks at home to describe this bizarre new animal. People thought the platypus was a joke or a hoax—because it didn’t fit into the classification of animals at that time.

But it was a real animal.

People just didn’t understand it because it was a new thing that didn’t fit into the established paradigms.

Bitcoin is much the same. It doesn’t fit into the framework of traditional financial analysis metrics.

There is no P/E (price-to-earnings) ratio because Bitcoin has no earnings.

There is no P/B (price-to-book) ratio because Bitcoin has no book value.

Bitcoin has no CEO, no marketing department, and no employees.

Bitcoin is an entirely new asset people are adopting as money because of its superior monetary properties, namely its resistance to inflation.

The monetization of a new global money is genuinely unlike anything anyone alive has ever seen before. There is nothing else comparable.

Like the platypus, Bitcoin is an entirely new animal. That’s why Bitcoin confuses many people, including prominent investment professionals.

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Ominous Military & Financial ‘Nuclear Threats’ Could Erupt in 2023, by Egon von Greyerz

The financial threat looks like a sure thing, and the military threat is not far behind. From Egon von Greyerz at goldswitzerland.com:

The world is today confronted with two nuclear threats of a proportion never previously seen in history. These threats are facing us at a time when the world economy is about to turn and decline precipitously not just for years but probably decades.

The obvious nuclear threat is the war between the US and Russia which currently is playing out in Ukraine.

The other nuclear threat is the financial weapons of mass destruction in the form of debt and derivatives amounting to probably US$ 2.5 quadrillion.

If we are lucky, the geopolitical event can be avoided but I doubt that the explosion/implosion of the Western financial timebomb can be stopped.

More about these risks later in the article.

There is also a summary of my market views for 2023 and onwards at the end of the article.

CURIOSITY AND RISK

With a business life of over 52 years in banking, commerce and investments, I am fortunate to still learn every day and learning is really the joy of life. But the more you learn, the more you realise how little you really know.

Being a constant and curious learner means that life is never dull.

As Einstein said:

The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

There has been another important constancy in my life which is understanding and protecting RISK.

I learnt early on in my commercial life that it is critical to identify risk and endeavour to protect the downside. If you can achieve that, the upside normally takes care of itself.

Sometimes the risk is so clear that you want to stand on the barricades and shout. But sadly most investors are driven by greed and seldom see when markets become high risk.

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