The world has grown tired of U.S. hegemony and its reserve currency exorbitant privilege. From Adam Dick at ronpaulinstitute.org:
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.
Sure, we’re just going to seamlessly transition to a world that no longer uses oil. That’s the fantasy of those who’ve either completely lost touch with reality or were never in touch with reality. From Joel Bowman at bonnerprivateresearch.substack.com:
Joel Bowman, appraising the situation from Buenos Aires, Argentina…
Welcome to another Sunday Session, dear reader, that time of week when we gather at the virtual watering hole to reckon over the troubles of our topsy-turvy world, one glass of Tacana 2020 Malbec at a time…
By the way, if you missed our conversation with Bill Bonner earlier in the week, in which he gave a bit of the backstory behind his high-altitude vineyard, whence cometh the aforementioned drop, you can listen in below. The wine, if there’s any left, is available here.
But let us begin this week’s issue with a comment from a dear reader. In response to one of Bill’s weekday missives, Let Them Buy Solar, reader JT wrote…
“Unfortunately I think we are way too far down the rabbit hole. Too many issues facing us collectively with absolutely no leadership to stop the madness. The last 15-20 years, most parents were asleep at the wheel. Now all we have are WOKE Tattooed Morons with Pink hair and shit for brains.”
Clear. Concise. Colorful. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Which brings us to this week’s token, pink-haired moron. You’ve probably seen the video already, but just in case, it’s worth setting the scene…
Biden is so desperate about the impending election that he’d coddle up to the devil himself for a million barrels of oil. From Victor Davis Hanson at zerohedge.com:
The Left used to accuse imperialist, resource-hungry Yanquis in Washington of cutting selfish deals with illiberal dictatorships in Latin America to grab their natural resources.
How odd then that President Joe Biden is now begging the despicable Maduro regime in Venezuela – corrupt, murderous, and anti-American – to produce more of its oil solely to send northward to America.
Biden is quite willing to ease sanctions and condone the human rights abuses of Maduro – if his dictatorship will just open its oil spigots before the November midterm elections.
Biden in 2020 campaigned on the supposed evil nature of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. Yet after vainly entreating Venezuela, Iran, and Russia, it was inevitable that Biden would once again supplicate the Saudis to pump more oil.
Biden even pleaded with OPEC to increase its output and thus lower the world price of energy, again before the midterm elections.
Biden, remember, has a bad habit of bragging that he lowered gas prices at the pump when the natural volatility of the petroleum markets leads to a fractional decrease. But once prices spike, he is utterly silent about his own role in limiting U.S. oil and gas output.
So, was it any surprise that the Saudis became the fourth non-democratic regime to refuse Biden’s entreaties? During the 2020 campaign, when gas prices were dirt cheap, and when then-candidate Biden was demagoguing about ending fossil fuel, he opportunistically libeled the Saudis a “pariah” state.
The Emirati Royal Family has a hell of a lot more money than you do, so you should be willing to risk your own or your children’s lives for them. That’s what serfs do. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
Why Is Washington So Fond of Medieval Dictatorships?
President Joe Biden made headlines with his preparations to visit Saudi Arabia and kowtow to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who candidate Biden pledged to treat as a pariah. Receiving less attention is the president’s plan to take his ostentatious grovel from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi.
According to Axios: “The Biden administration and the United Arab Emirates are discussing a possible strategic agreement that would give the Gulf country certain U.S. security guarantees.” Washington reportedly has sent a draft text, which would effectively turn American military personnel into mercenaries for the Emirati royals. Just as the UAE hires out most other difficult work to others, it wants the US to provide bodyguards for the oppressive regime.
By truckling to the Gulf kingdoms, the administration hopes to convince the royals to increase oil production. Washington has been too successful in driving Venezuelan, Iranian, and most recently Russian petroleum off the market and now is desperate to lower gasoline prices. It is a forlorn hope – the Saudis and Emiratis are enjoying the financial bounty of high oil prices – but the president, facing a potential midterm congressional wipeout in November, is attempting a sort of “Hail Allah” pass.
The West’s self-inflicted oil and gas supply constraints (sanctions on Russian oil and gas) has and will continue to raise the price the West must pay for oil and gas. It’s that simple. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:
Europe’s extreme dependency on Russian energy products from oil to natural gas is made clear recently from the manner in which they have approached sanctions – with incrementalism, slowly sinking back into the bushes.
The latest agreement among member nations on export bans targeting Russia is largely oil focused, not natural gas focused, with the union demanding an immediate 70% decrease in Russian oil transferred BY SHIP. Oil transferred by pipeline will continue to flow into the EU for now. The ban is intended to expand to 90% of all shipborne Russian oil by the end of this year. Natural gas imports from Russia will also continue.
While some European nations are more dependent on Russian energy than others, overall 40% of the EU’s needs are supplied by the country’s industry. It is not surprising that they are seeking an incremental approach to sanctions, they simply would not be able to survive another winter if they were to go cold turkey and block Russian imports completely. Of course, this does not mean that Russia has to operate on Europe’s timetable.
Russia is already reducing exports of natural gas to multiple EU countries, with Denmark, Netherlands and Germany being the latest to see losses. The EU’s ban was oil and ship focused because they cannot find an alternative source for natural gas that would resolve shortages if they banned everything. Germany in particular would be destroyed by the loss of natural gas supplies from Russia with its 42% dependency.
The logistics problems getting Russian oil to China are monumental. From Tsvetana Paraskova at oilprice.com:
Russia is offering deep discounts for its crude following a wave of sanctions on its energy industry.
While China and India are still buying some discounted oil, logistical hurdles are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate.
Contractual obligations and shipping constraints are posing major problems for would-be-buyers of Russian oil.
Outbound shipments of Russian oil have yet to show signs of a major decline, as many analysts feared last month. In fact, Russia’s shipments of crude oil rebounded in the first full week of April to the highest level so far this year, Bloomberg News’ tracker of crude leaving Russian ports showed on Monday. Yet, a “buyers’ strike” in Europe with many majors refusing to deal with Russian spot cargoes is forcing Russian crude to make much longer and complicated voyages to reach willing buyers in Asia. While China and India are not shying away from Russian crude—which sells at hefty discounts attracting price-sensitive buyers—the logistics of shipping oil from Russia’s Black Sea and Baltic ports to Asia and the scarce tanker availability, bank guarantees, and insurance for Russian cargoes would limit the amount of oil that Asia could take and compensate for lost barrels that are no longer going to Europe, analysts say.
Nobody talks about monetary privilege, which is the ability to exchange a piece of paper for real goods and services from other lands simply because that piece of paper is considered the world’s reserve currency. From Nick Giambruno at internationalman.com:
The US government reaps an unfathomable amount of power from its racket of printing fake money out of thin air and forcing it on the world.
The petrodollar system is a big reason it has gotten away with this scam for so long.
In short, here’s how it works…
Oil is by far the largest and most strategic commodity market. For the last 50 years, virtually anyone who wanted to import oil needed US dollars to pay for it.
Every country needs oil. And if foreign countries need US dollars to buy oil, they have a compelling reason to hold large dollar reserves.
If the petrodollar standard falls, so goes the American empire. From Nick Giambruno at internationalman.com:
It’s been rightly said that “he who holds the gold makes the rules.”
After World War 2, the US had the largest gold reserves in the world, by far. Along with winning the war, this let the US reconstruct the global monetary system around the dollar.
The new system, created at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, tied the currencies of virtually every country in the world to the US dollar through a fixed exchange rate. It also tied the US dollar to gold at a fixed rate of $35 per ounce.
The dollar was said to be “as good as gold.”
The Bretton Woods system made the US dollar the world’s premier reserve currency. It forced other countries to store dollars for international trade or to exchange with the US government for gold.
Europe would have to deemphasize wind and solar, allow more development of oil and natural gas, and promote nuclear energy to get within field-goal range of energy independence. From Daniel Lacalle at dlacalle.com:
Europe is not going to achieve a competitive energy transition with the current interventionist policies. Europe does not depend on Russian gas due to a coincidence, but because of a chain of mistaken policies. Banning nuclear in Germany, prohibiting the development of domestic natural gas resources throughout the European Union, added to a massive and expensive renewable roll-out without building a reliable back-up.
Solar and wind do not reduce dependency on Russian natural gas. They are necessary but volatile and intermittent. They need back-up for security of supply from nuclear, hydro, and natural gas. Dependency rises in periods of low wind and little sun, just when prices are highest.
“Solar goes to zero for twelve hours a day, and that is guaranteed. The wind blows sometimes, and sometimes it does not, also guaranteed. They both depend on weather, which is 100% out of human control. They are on their best day a supplement” wrote a Navy pilot follower.
Batteries are not an option either. It is impossible to build an industrial-size network of enormous batteries, the cost would be prohibitive and the dependency on China build them (lithium etc.) would be even more of a problem. At current prices, a battery storage system of Europe’s size would cost more than $2.5 trillion, according to an MIT Technology Review paper. Massively more expensive than any other alternative.
Just the added cost of a battery grid plus the distribution and transmission network would make household bills soar even further.
Inflation was already out of control in Europe before the invasion of Ukraine was even a risk. CPI in Spain was 7.6%, in Portugal it was 4.2% and in Germany, 5.1%. Euro area CPI was 5.8%.