The dollar hegemony is a curse on the global economy. It is not in the interest of any country, and least of all of the US.
The frenetic monetary movements of the US Federal Reserve is transmitted around the world in disruptive cycles of dollars liquidity. This is amplified by the $12 trillion offshore dollar loan market and the vast network of debt contracts tied to US borrowing rates.
The Fed’s zero rate and money creation (QE) floods the global system with cheap financing and causes credit booms.
The Fed takesth when it drives real rates through the ceiling and destroys money (QT), draining global liquidity and torturing dollar debtors all over the world. The Fed overwhelms central banks in Europe and China who are trying to navigate reefs. It imposes de facto monetary policies on all countries, whether they like it or not.
It can have a violently procyclical and harmful effect. It “blows” back into the US economic system. This is the danger we face as the Fed forces the tightest monetary policy in 40 years on the other half of the world.
Other currencies are needed urgently. No currency is suitable for the purpose. Europe is like a museum, Japan is like a nursing home and China is like a prison.
Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, says: “I wonder every night why other countries are forced to use the dollar as a currency for their commerce.” Answer: The US is the only superpower in the world that is a full-spectrum power, including military, energy and agricultural production, as well as economic, financial and technological.
Lula is adamant about his Brics money, “just as the Europeans did when they created the Euro”. The coalition of willing is supposed to launch it, and they are Brazil, Russia India, China South Africa, and after the 15th Brics Summit this week in Johannesburg, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Argentina, Iran, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
Lessons from the painful half-formed Euro seem to be completely forgotten or never learnt. Few Brics-based ideologues understand what it takes forging a monetary unit and, even more difficult, making it work.
All the key states of the Eurozone are democratic. All are Nato members and have a similar foreign policy. The Acquis is a legal and commercial agreement that was drafted jointly by the parliament and executive of each country. This union, which dates back to 1957, has a supreme court and a joint supreme court. The member states do not have a veto on large areas of policy.
Even this level of integration was not enough to create a currency that is functional.
The massive intra-EMU capital and trade imbalances were caused by the use of interest rates that are universal for all economies, even those with slightly different growth rates and structures. The EU slid from crisis to crisis, dividing Europe in hostile camps of debtor and creditor nations. This led to an economic collapse and a lost decade.
The Brics share a lot less than you might think.
Some import commodities, others export them. Some are democratic, others are dictatorships that are at daggers drawn to democracy. China and India are at opposite ends of Asia’s strategic divide. None of them is willing to accept joint laws, courts, or anything similar to a joint executive sine-qua-non to manage a currency.
Lord Jim O’Neill says it’s “madness” to try and launch Lula’s Moneda from this foundation. He was Mr Brics for Goldman Sachs.
The debate is surreal. The Brics Bank itself is in dollars, and as a credit risk it struggles to raise money on the global capital markets.
The New Development Bank uses the US dollar to anchor its currency. Leslie Maasdorp said, “We are firmly embedded within the US dollar hemisphere.”
Each Brics member is aware that the project has become a front for Chinese intentions. China’s internal documents are clear that despite the “multipolarity”, which was discussed in Johannesburg, it is seeking to replace the US and become the global hegemon.
I find it strange that the Brics concept has become so popular , particularly since Russia has destabilised world food supplies and launched an imperialist reactionary war, revealing that Russia is a paper tiger in terms of military capability.
It was 15 years ago that the collapse of the American liberal system was a plausible scenario. The US banking system had collapsed, the dollar was on a free fall, and America was running out energy.
The Brics boom had reached its peak. Some people could argue that compounded growth rates will lead to an end to the Chinese sorpasso by the 2020s, and then to a post-Western world order centred around the emerging industrial powers of Asia. It was not only wrong, but also absurd.
This narrative was built on the fallacy extrapolation. China had already fallen into a stagnation trap by that time, following policies which would lead to a collapse in total factor productivity and subsequently resulting in trough growth of around 2.5pc.
These policies weren’t a “mistake”. These policies were, and remain, an integral part of Communist Party control and ideology. China can’t give up the top-down Leninist model for credit allocation and social controls because doing so would lead to a political revolution.
After the peak of the commodity supercycle in 2011, both Brazil and Russia experienced economic depressions. The resource curse and overvalued currency had already ravaged their industrial cores. In the last 12 year, their combined GDP fell from 30pc down to 15pc (World Bank data). All Brics economies have been in trouble except for India.
The US has been the one to reject the decline prophets. America is once again the largest producer of combined oil and gas in the world. It dominates the digital world. The Biden Dollar is on steroids.
The Brics Process is not driven by US weakness, but by US strength. Above all, fear of the US Treasury’s long reach via the world’s dollars-based payment system.
The Brics’ posturing today has limits. How many countries are really interested in joining to the Sino-Russian dispute with the G7?
Saudi Arabia’s addition sounds glamorous, but its economy isn’t much larger than that of the Netherlands and oil is a business model from yesterday. The more the Brics grows, the less coherent it becomes and the more absurd it is to consider a monetary union.
The world needs a more stable currency system, whether it is a Brics coin. The euro will remain a second-tier currency until Germany accepts fiscal union. The Chinese yuan will not be a reserve currency for the world until it becomes fully convertible, and China agrees to a structural deficit in its current account.
Charles de Gaulle believed that America enjoyed “exorbitant priviledge” as the reserve currency. Better to call it an “exorbitant cost”. America has to run huge deficits in order to continue the game. The Triffin Dilemma. The dollar shortage, if it ever stops will cause the international financial system to freeze up.
This could happen in the event that a reelected Biden continues to push Buy American or if Trump II decides on sweeping tariffs, and a move towards autarky.
Stop wasting time on the Brics and start worrying about the future of the global economy, if the US continues to refuse to shoulder its Triffin-like burden.