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The dollar’s reign as the global reserve currency is running out – FAST

The dollar’s hegemony over the global financial system can’t last forever

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(ZeroHedge) – The dollar’s hegemony over the global financial system can’t last forever. Like all things, it will eventually come to an end.

The only question left, as MacroVoices’ Erik Townsend puts it, is whether we’re in the second inning and there’s going to be another hundred years of the dollar serving as the world’s global reserve currency? Or whether we’re in the bottom of the ninth and it’s all about to fall apart? Or maybe somewhere in between.

In an interview with Jeffrey Snider, CIO at Alhambra Partners, Luke Gromen, founder of Forest for the Trees, and The dollar’s hegemony over the global financial system can’t last forever, founder and fund manager for Morgan Creek, Townsend explores the issue in greater detail. For many, the decline of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency is difficult to imagine. But the first blow to the petrodollar system has already been delivered: By refusing to accept oil payments in dollars, Venezuela has demonstrated to the world that an alternative system to the petrodollar is indeed possible. Furthermore, Latin America’s socialist paradise has begun publishing an oil-price index denominated in yuan. We’ve also highlighted reports that Russia, Venezuela and Iran – three countries that have trouble accumulating dollars because of Treasury Department sanctions – are considering launching a cryptocurrency backed by oil.

Townsend begins his interview with Gromen, who points out that, counterintuitively, the dollar’s rapid appreciation beginning in Q3 2014 has coincided with a drop in the share of global trade settled in dollars. Gromen predicts that this trend will continue to benefit the dollar – until it doesn’t.

I would probably say in the later innings. Certainly the last third of the game. Maybe the eighth inning.

The reason I say that is that, given the Eurodollar system as it’s structured, early on, if any nations or major parties wanted to move away from using the dollar for any number of reasons, ironically, what that moving away from the dollar would do would drive significant dollar strength. So, ironically, accelerating moves to dump the dollar in global trade usage, which in the long run is the most bearish development for the dollar, in the near term is the most bullish development for the dollar.

And so when we look back, we think, beginning in 3Q14 was when you started to see a marked acceleration in the dollar’s share loss in global trade. And, in particular, in energy trade centered between China and Russia. And so we think things began to accelerate in 3Q14 and, like we’ve said, the process of moving away from the dollar, or the dollar losing share in trade, is a big positive for the dollar – until it’s not.

However, Gorman believes an important shift happened in Q3 2016 when the dollar’s share loss in global trade started to accelerate. At that point, the dollar’s climb from 2014 and 2015 had already been unwound to a degree. Furthermore, Gorman posits that the dollar will weaken because it’s in the national security interest of the US for the dollar to weaken.

And then the “until it’s not” part of this movie began over a year ago now, in 3Q16. The reason we say that is because from 3Q14 until 3Q16 you saw a rising dollar, rising Libor, and a pretty traditional dollar strengthening cycle up to that point.

Where it started to become non-traditional relative to what pretty much any market participant trading in markets today – or even alive today – was when in 3Q16 rising dollar, rising Libor, drove a year-over- year decline in US tax receipts and therefore an increase in the US deficit as a percent of GDP. And it did this before you had a major emerging crisis.

This was the first time the US’s tax receipts declined before a major emerging market crisis, in a dollar-tightening cycle, in the post-Bretton Woods period.

And so, then, when you combine that with what has become effectively a system that requires as infinitum asset price appreciation in order to drive tax receipts for the US government, it sets up – beginning in 3Q16, where we started to get into late innings of this game. Where, not only are foreign creditors looking to move away from the dollar in trade usage for a number of reasons, but it also started to become a matter of national security for the

US government for the dollar to weaken.

Moving on, Townsend turns next to Jeff Snider, CIO at Alhambra investments. Snider explains how the Eurodollar system harms emerging-market economies and ultimately weakens the global financial system with each cycle of tightening.

The last tightening cycle, which lasted from 2014 through 2016, was particularly destabilizing, Snider explained, particularly for emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, and China. Many EM countries and corporations based in those countries issue dollar-denominated debt, which becomes more expensive to pay down when the greenback climbs.

But, for now at least, Snider expects the system to endure – if for no other reason than there’s nothing to take its place.

My position is that the dollar system, the supply of dollars in the global network of trade, continues to be a problem. But it isn’t a problem in a straight line. It’s not like it’s a straight-line decay from where you can draw a singular line from 2007 to 2013. Instead, it’s more of an intermittent type of thing where we have these alternating periods where things tighten up. Then they loosen up relatively.

But, as we go through each of these periods, the system is worse off for having gone through each one. And so the last tightening episode, starting in 2014 and lasting through 2016, was severe. Especially in emerging markets like Brazil, Russia, and China, the BRICs, because that’s where that part of the dysfunction was focused. More in FX and more into the Asian part of the system, as it has evolved since 2007 in that direction.

So, from my perspective, nothing has really changed except the system continues to get weaker. And I think right now where we are is we’re waiting for the next tightening event to start taking place. That there’s plenty of evidence that the system continues to decay, particularly with China and some of the other emerging markets.

So it doesn’t add up to a bullish position, necessarily. And I think that’s one of the things I want to define, is what exactly is a rising dollar? And it’s not bullish. And I’m certainly not of the position that most dollar bulls take, which is that the dollar goes up because the US is going to strengthen either economically, financially, or otherwise. I think that’s just not the case. So if we couch these in terms of the Eurodollar system and its continued decay, it’s not a bullish thing. But I think the dollar continues to go up, at least for the next little while. Because, frankly, there is nothing there to take its place.

So we’re kind of stuck with it.

Moving on, while Yusko didn’t feel comfortable attaching an expected expiration date for global dollar hegemony, he did draw some interesting parallels between the dollar and the British pound, the global reserve currency that immediately preceded the dollar.

You know, the interesting thing about world reserve currency is there have been lots of them over time. And I always joked that Americans are like Notre Dame football fans – they remember a past that never was. Notre Dame football fans think that we win all the time, which, clearly, we don’t. I was down in Miami. That was horrible.

And, you know, Americans think that we’ve always been the world reserve currency, for some reason. And we clearly haven’t. It’s only been since 1944. What’s interesting about that is the transition can last a long time. The sun never set on the British Empire for 70 years. They had the world reserve currency. They had the strongest navy.

And then in 1913 they invaded Mesopotamia, incurred a bunch of debt, the pound sterling collapsed, the dollar ascended. We, 31 years later, became the world reserve currency. And then in 2013, we (coincidentally) invaded Mesopotamia, incurred a bunch of debt, the dollar collapsed, and the Renminbi ascended.

Well, that hasn’t all happened yet. But I think it’s on its way to happening. And when I look around the world, I think it’s supremely clear that China has a plan. And for the last 50 years, their stated goal was a harmonious rise.

Doesn’t that sound poetic? It’s beautiful. It’s non-confrontational.

Ultimately, Yusko believes the Chinese yuan will replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency sometime before 2050, the time by which Yusko expects China will become the dominant global power.

This contrasts with the consensus view, that, after the dollar, there won’t be one dominant currency, but several in separate spheres of influence.

The conversation is part one of a five-part series from MacroVoices exploring the dollar’s future as the world’s dominant currency.

Readers can listen to the whole conversation below:

The podcast targeting pro finance and sophisticated investors, hosted by Hedge Fund Manager Erik Townsend

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De-Dollarization Tops Agenda at Russia’s Eastern Economic Forum

The Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) was held in Vladivostok on Sept.11-13. Founded in 2015, the event has become a platform for planning and launching projects to strengthen business ties in the Asia-Pacific region.

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This year, the EEF brought together delegations from over 60 countries to discuss the topic “The Far East: Expanding the Range of Possibilities”. A total of 100 business events involving over 6,000 participants were held during the three days.

1,357 media personnel worked to cover the forum. Last year, the number of participants was 5,000 with 1,000 media persons involved in reporting and broadcasting. The EEF-18 gathered 340 foreign and 383 Russian CEOs. Nearly 80 start-ups from across South-East Asia joined the meeting.

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This year, a total of 175 agreements worth of 2.9 trillion rubles (some $4.3 billion) were signed. For comparison, the sum was 2.5 trillion rubles (roughly $3.7 billion) in 2017.

They included the development of the Baimsky ore deposits in Chukotka, the construction of a terminal for Novatek LNG at Bechevinskaya Bay in Kamchatka and the investment of Asian countries in Russia’s agricultural projects in the Far East.

Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Mail.Ru Group, Megafon and Chinese Alibaba inked an agreement on establishing AliExpress trade joint venture. Rosneft and Chinese CNPC signed an oil exploration agreement.

The Chinese delegation was the largest (1,096 people), followed by the Japanese (570 members). The list of guests included the president of Mongolia and prime ministers of Japan and South Korea.

It was also the first time Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the event to meet his Russian counterpart. The issue of de-dollarization topped the agenda. Russia and China reaffirmed their interest in expanding the use of national currencies in bilateral deals.

During the forum, Kirill Dmitriev, the head of RDIF, said the fund intends to use only national currencies in its transactions with China starting from 2019. It will cooperate with the China Development Bank.

This “yuanification” is making visible progress with Shanghai crude futures increasing their share of oil markets up to 14 percent or even more. China has signed agreements with Canada and Qatar on national currencies exchange.

READ MORE: Eastern Economic Forum opens new chapter in US-Russia dialogue

De-dollarization is a trend that is picking up momentum across the world. A growing number of countries are interested in replacing the dollar. Russia is leading the race to protect itself from fluctuations, storms and US-waged trade wars and sanctions.

Moscow backs non-dollar trade with Ankara amid the ongoing lira crisis. Turkey is switching from the dollar to settlements in national currencies, including its trade with China and other countries. Ditching the US dollar is the issue topping the BRICS agenda. In April, Iran transferred all international payments to the euro.

The voices calling for de-dollarization are getting louder among America’s closest European allies. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US.

According to him, Europe should not allow the United States to act “over our heads and at our expense.” The official wants to strengthen European autonomy by establishing independent payment channels, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent SWIFT system.

Presenting his annual program, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Sept. 12 for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the dollar.

According to him, “We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene.” Mr. Juncker believes “it is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in US dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States.” He wants the raft of proposals made in his state of the union address to start being implemented before the European Parliament elections in May.

70% of all world trade transactions account for the dollar, while 20% are  settled in the euro, and the rest falls on the yuan and other Asian currencies. The dollar value is high to make the prices of consumer goods in the US artificially low. The demand for dollars allows refinancing the huge debt at low interest rates. The US policy of trade wars and sanctions has triggered the global process of de-dollarization.

Using punitive measures as a foreign policy tool is like shooting oneself in the foot. It prompts a backlash to undermine the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency – the basis of the US economic might. The aggressive policy undermines the US world standing to make it weaker, not stronger.

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Putin and Erdogan Plan Syria-Idlib DMZ

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops occupying Idlib will take control over that land, and have responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet.

Eric Zuesse

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As I recommended in a post on September 10th, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan jointly announced on September 17th, “We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide,” which compares to the Korean DMZ’s 4-km width. I had had in mind the Korean experience, but obviously Putin and Erdogan are much better-informed about the situation than I am, and they have chosen a DMZ that’s four to five times wider. In any case, the consequences of such a decision will be momentous, unless U.S. President Donald Trump is so determined for there to be World War III as to stop at nothing in order to force it to happen no matter what Russia does or doesn’t do.

What the Putin-Erdogan DMZ decision means is that the 50,000 Turkish troops who now are occupying Idlib province of Syria will take control over that land, and will thus have the responsibility over the largest concentration of jihadists anywhere on the planet: Idlib. It contains the surviving Syrian Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters, including all of the ones throughout Syria who surrendered to the Syrian Army rather than be shot dead on the spot by Government forces.

For its part, the U.S. Government, backed by its allies and supported in this by high officials of the United Nations, had repeatedly threatened that if there occurs any chemical-weapons attack, or even any claimed chemical-weapons attack, inside Idlib, the U.S. and its allies will instantaneously blame the Syrian Government and bomb Syria, and will shoot down the planes of Syria and of Russia that oppose this bombing-campaign to conquer or ‘liberate’ Syria from its Government. The U.S. has announced its determination to protect what one high U.S. official — who is endorsing what Trump is doing there — “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” He admits it, but he wants to protect them from being bombed by Syria and by Russia.

During recent weeks, the U.S. military has increasingly said that even if the jihadists they’ve been assisting to assemble the materials for a chemical-weapons attack fail to carry it out or to stage one, any attempt by Syrian and Russian forces to destroy the jihadists (which the U.S. side calls ‘rebels’) in Idlib will be met with overwhelming U.S.-and-allied firepower. That would spark WW III, because whichever side — Russia or U.S. — loses in the Syrian battlefield will nuclear-blitz-attack the other side so as to have the lesser damage from the nuclear war and thus (in military terms) ‘win’ WW III, because the blitz-attack will destroy many of the opposite side’s retaliatory weapons. In a nuclear war, the first side to attack will have a considerable advantage — reducing the number of weapons the other side can launch.

If, on the other hand, the DMZ-plan works, then Turkey’s forces will be responsible for vetting any of Idlib’s residents who try to leave, in order to prohibit jihadists and their supporters from leaving. Once that task (filtering out the non-dangerous inhabitants and retaining in Idlib only the jihadists and their supporters) is done, the entire world might be consulted on whether to exterminate the remaining residents or to set them free to return to the countries from which they came or to other countries. Presumably, no country would want those ‘refugees’. That would answer the question.

America’s Arab allies, the oil monarchies such as the Sauds who own Saudi Arabia and the Thanis who own Qatar, and which have funded Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, would then be put on a spot, because if they say “Exterminate them!” then their clergy who have provided the moral imprimatur upon those families’ ownership of those nations, will either be in rebellion or else will themselves become overthrown either by their own followers or else by their monarch — overthrown from below or from above.

Alternatively, after Turkey’s forces in Idlib will have allowed release from Idlib of all who will be allowed out, Syria’s and Russia’s bombers will simply go in and slaughter the then-surrounded jihadists and take upon themselves the responsibility for that, regardless of what the leaders of the U.S. and its allied governments might say.

On the night of September 17th in Syria, there were missile-attacks “from the sea” against several Syrian cities; and those attacks could have come from either Israel’s or America’s ships, or from other U.S.-allied ships. Russian Television bannered, “Russian plane disappears from radars during Israeli attack on Syria’s Latakia – MoD” and reported:

A Russian military Il-20 aircraft with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD.Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17. …
The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province

If the missiles were authorized by President Trump, then WW III has already begun in its pre-nuclear stage. However, if the attacks were launched by Israel’s Netanyahu, and/or by France’s Macron, without U.S. authorization, then the U.S. President might respond to them by siding against that aggressor(s) (and also against what he used to call “Radical Islamic Terrorists”), so as to prevent a nuclear war.

Late on September 17th, Al Masdar News bannered “NATO warships move towards Syrian coast” and reported “The NATO flotilla cruising off the Syrian coast reportedly consists of a Dutch frigate, the De Ruyter, a Canadian frigate, the Ville de Quebec, and a Greek cruiser, the Elli.” Al Qaeda and ISIS have influential protectors.

Ultimately, the decision will be U.S. President Trump’s as to whether he is willing to subject the planet to WW III and to its following nuclear winter and consequent die-off of agriculture and of everyone, in order to ‘win’ a nuclear war, such as America’s aristocracy has especially championed since the year 2006. The nuclear-victory concept is called “Nuclear Primacy” — the use of nuclear weapons so as to win a nuclear war against Russia, instead of to prevent a nuclear war. That concept’s predecessor, the “Mutually Assured Destruction” or “M.A.D.” meta-strategy, predominated even in the U.S. until 2006. Trump will have to decide whether the purpose of America’s nuclear-weapons stockpiles is to prevent WW III, or is to win WW III.

In Russia, the purpose has always been to have nuclear weapons in order to prevent WW III. But America’s President will be the person who will make the ultimate decision on this. And Idlib might be the spark. Netanyahu or Macron might be wanting to drag the U.S. into war even against Russia, but the final decision will be Trump’s.

The ultimate question is: How far will the U.S. go in order to continue the U.S. dollar as being the overwhelmingly dominant global currency?

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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Russian MoD: Il-20 downed by Syrian missile after attacking Israel’s F-16s used it as cover

Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces.

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Russia has stated that it “reserves right to response” after claiming that Israel’s actions led to downing of Il-20 by Syrian S-200 missiles.

The Russian military accused their Israeli counterparts for causing the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane by the Syrian air defense forces, which were responding to an Israeli air raid on Latakia.

Via RT


The Russian military say the Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events, which led to the shooting down of a Russian Il-20 plane by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

On Monday evening four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes came at a small altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region”, it said.

The military said the French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area of the Israeli operation.

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” the statement said.

The Russian ministry stressed that the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, which didn’t stop them from “the provocation”. Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,” the statement said.

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