By David Redick
Background on World Banking
As more nations entered international trade, it became convenient for banks to keep currency reserves in their vaults for just a few of the leading nations to fund international exchange deals. Other nations then had to convert to a reserve currency to consummate a deal. International currencies in the past have included the Greek drachma, coined in the fifth century B.C., the Roman denari, the Byzantine solidus and Arab dinar of the Middle Ages, the Venetian ducato and the Florentine florin of the Renaissance, the seventeenth century Dutch guilder and, more recently, the British pound and U.S. dollar. There is always one currency that is treated as Primary because it is deemed safest and easiest to use. This status is conferred by market usage, not a formal agreement. A nation’s status as issuer of a reserve currency varies from strong to terminated, as the ethics, economic and military strength of the issuing nation vary. Figure 1 below shows the various currencies that were Primary Reserve.
Notice that most last about 100 years and then their nation declines and their currency loses its’ reserve status. Also notice that the USD has been ‘reserve’ since 1925, so has been in reserve status for 96 years. Watch out for decline! This fits with the fact that the USA is a failing empire, as discussed in this link: https://www.activistpost.com/2013/09/empire-usa-is-crashing.html#more.
“The development of the modern concept of a reserve currency took place in the mid nineteenth century (1850), with the introduction of national central banks worldwide and an increasingly integrated global economy.” (more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_currency)
The banks’ control of these international deals led to political issues on rates and types of items in the deals. An example occurred in the 1800s when the Rothschild family of bankers helped finance wars in greater Europe. They would loan to both sides, and the winner had to pay-off the loans for both sides. This worked because the winner could create new fiat money (paper notes, not redeemable for gold) and steal gold from the losers’ vaults. Their family elder, Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild, said: “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws” – 1790.
After WW1, France and England were nearly broke due to war expenses and damage to factories and infrastructure. The USA emerged in 1918 as one of the world’s strongest nations, with a strong currency based on our almost 6,000 tonnes of gold reserves, far ahead of the 1,201 held by France, and 1,046 by England. Thus, the U.S. dollar became the world’s Primary Reserve Currency.
After we spent too much during the Roaring ’20s, we were getting low on gold for redeeming paper notes from Europe, etc. FDR got more gold (for free with paper Fed Notes, ‘made out of thin air’) by issuing Exec. Order 6102 in March, 1933, his first month in office. This Order made it illegal for U.S. citizens to own gold (he called it ‘hoarding’) except for jewelry and rare coins. He paid citizens for their gold at the then official rate of $20.67 of paper Fed Notes per ounce (thus free to the government). He then repriced gold at $35 per ounce for a substantial profit. In 1974, Pres. Ford ended the prohibition to own gold.
The U.S. struggled with the Great Depression from 1932 until WW2 took over our economy from 1941 to ’45. In 1944, when it had become clear that the USA and its allies would win World War 2, financial leaders from all major countries agreed that they should meet to organize a plan on how international money and banking would be managed after the war. During July 1-22, 1944, 730 delegates from all 44 allied nations met at the Mount Washington resort in Bretton Woods, NH.
The meeting was called the ‘United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference’, but became known as the ‘Bretton Woods Conference’. It established the rules for commercial and financial relations among the United States and all other signatory nations. The Bretton Woods system was the first example of a fully negotiated monetary order intended to govern monetary relations among independent nation-states. The chief features of the Bretton Woods system were an obligation for each country to adopt a monetary policy that maintained the exchange rate (± 1 percent) by tying its currency to gold and the ability of the IMF to bridge (bail out) temporary imbalances of payments. Also, there was a need to address the lack of cooperation among other countries and to prevent competitive devaluation of the currencies as well.
Preparing to rebuild the international economic system while World War II was still raging, the delegates signed the Bretton Woods agreement on July 22, 1944. Setting up a system of rules, institutions, and procedures to regulate the international monetary system, these accords established the;
- International Monetary Fund(IMF) and the
- International Bank for Reconstruction and Development(IBRD), which today is part of the
- World Bank Group.
These are the first worldwide banking organizations, and allowed lovers of a single world currency to start implementing their plan! I note that a banking network called SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication), built in 1973 by the U.S. who until this day operates and controls it, allows member banks to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment. It supplies information, but does not execute transactions. This network, and the status as Reserve Currency, gives the USA power to abuse both for political issues. This disturbs/angers the other members.
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The United States, which controlled two thirds of the world’s gold in 1944 (US=20,279 tonnes), insisted that the Bretton Woods system rest on both gold and the USD. The USD was voted to immediately be the world’s Primary Reserve Currency, and this made the USD ‘good as gold’, (By law for the first time; normally it is earned by usage.). All banks were now required to hold it in their reserves. This is needed because it was used in over 70% of international transactions, even when the U.S. was not a party to the transaction). This is more convenient than keeping a supply of over 100 currencies, but gives power to the issuer of the Primary Reserve.
The agreement required that the U.S. redeem Fed Notes (gold for paper money) to any nation on demand. By the early 1960s, other nations knew that we had been paying most of our bills (with large expenses for Medicare, welfare, and Vietnam) by creating new money (paper or digital) ‘out of thin air’ and soon would not have enough gold to redeem all of the issued notes and bonds. Only the issuer of the world’s Primary Reserve Currency can get away with this! French President DeGaulle called it our ‘exorbitant privilege’. Germany, France and England held millions of EuroDollars from U.S. spending on the Marshal Plan and exports to the U.S., and felt at risk of a default on redemption, so they began redeeming much of their USD holdings for gold during the late 1960s. By 1970 U.S. gold reserves were approaching zero and President Nixon met with his financial advisors to make a plan to avoid depletion. Thus, on 15 August 1971, the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the USD to gold, effectively bringing the Bretton Woods system to an end, and rendering the dollar a fiat currency (worth whatever the issuing government declares as its’ ‘face value’). This action, referred to as the ‘Nixon shock’, created the situation in which the U.S. dollar became the world’s first fiat reserve currency (rather than gold), and was accepted still by nations and sellers. With a year, all world currencies became free-floating (fiat, not redeemable for a commodity) and were valued (exchange rate with USD) in free markets (not by law). Since 1971 the U.S. has been abusive in creating new money to pay most of its bills, and thus the purchasing power (PP) per USD has declined. Econ 101 says if you increase the quantity of an item, and demand stays flat, its value per unit will decline; i.e., monetary inflation causes depreciation of purchasing power. Due to monetary inflation (excessive creation of new money) the USD has lost over 95% of its value (PP) since creation of the Fed in 1913. The rate of decline was fastest after Nixon ended redemption for gold in 1971. Recent examples are that a room in Motel 6 cost $6 in the ’70s and is $50 now, and a family car that cost $2,000 in the ’70s is now $20,000! This shows that the purchasing power of the USD has declined by about 90% since the 1970s, and means $1,000 in 1976 was worth $100 in 2016; an average loss of 2.25% per year! This loss should be included in any investment analysis (annuities, CDs, stock dividend, etc.)
Monetary Events Since 2000
We again see that our trading partner nations and firms (who hold many dollars received for exports to the U.S.) feel at risk as the USD declines.
At the IMF, the BANCOR: The IMF recommended on April 13, 2010 that the world adopt a global fiat currency called the “Bancor,” and that a global central bank be established to administer it. That is ‘big talk’, so let’s watch it closely.
In the USA: The Fed has been desperately trying to ‘manage’ our money and economy since the 2007 bust. The massive injection of new money by the ‘Quantitative Easing’ method (Fed buys bonds from banks), active from 2008 to 2014, with QE1, 2, and 3. It failed to stimulate the economy despite increasing Fed assets from $700 billion to $4.5 trillion, for an insertion of $3.8 trillion into the U.S. banking industry! The low interest rates since then did not spur borrowing or spending, because people and firms sought safety in less of both. However, the low rates help the government by reducing interest payments on our massive $20 trillion national debt (plus $146 trillion more of undisclosed debts). Thus, we stumble along toward the debt default cliff.
In Mar-2016 a bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate called the ‘DIGIT Act’ (Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act). This bill requires the Department of Commerce to convene a working group of stakeholders to provide recommendations to Congress on how to plan for and encourage the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the United States. Some say it will be used to support digital money.
China, Russia, and the BRICS: China and Russia suggested at the Jan-2009 ‘World Economic Forum’ in Davos that a new system is needed to replace the USD as the world’s primary reserve currency (Think: We need a single world currency!!), then they agreed to start trading in their own currencies (the USD declined due to less demand). In Aug-2011, China and France agreed to form a task force to discuss how the Yuan could become part of the SDR (SDR= Special Drawing Rights; this is a ‘basket of currencies’ asset, used only between member central banks of the IMF). In Dec-2011 China and Japan agreed to trade in their own currencies. In Jan-2012 Iran said it would sell oil to India in rupees. China holds $1.3 trillions of USD denominated bonds and other assets, and doesn’t want the USD to crash (but they do want a controlled decline).
In late 2015 the IMF announced it would make the Chinese renminbi currency part of the SDR, and they did! On Oct 20, 2016, the IMF is expected to announce a reserve currency alternative to the U.S. dollar, which will likely send billions of dollars moving around the world, literally overnight! This could cause a serious reduction in the exchange value of the USD!
The BRICS: A group called the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and S. Africa) started trading with each other in their own currencies in 2011. They hold annual conferences. At the July-2014 sixth summit of the BRICS in Brazil they started funding of two multilateral financial institutions designed to erode the dominance of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund as arbiters of the global economic system. Namely: 1) A $100 billion ‘New Development Bank’ (like the World Bank), and 2) a Reserve Currency Fund (like the IMF) worth another $100 billion.
China: China made a major announcement on Oct. 24, 2014 with the creation the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AiiBank.org), a multilateral development bank to provide finance to infrastructure projects in the Asia region. AIIB is regarded by some as a rival for the IMF, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which are dominated by developed countries like the United States. As of April 15, 2015, almost all Asian countries and most major countries outside Asia (total of 50) had joined the AIIB, except the US, Japan (which dominated the ADB) and Canada. North Korea’s and Taiwan’s applications for Prospective Founding Member (PFM) were rejected. The rush of our ‘friends’ in Europe to join is an indication of China’s growing economic power. It is not clear which currency the AIIB will use. It could be the Yuan, or even the IMF SDR, with the Yuan included. Either choice would reduce the USD dominance as a reserve currency, an ominous step toward collapse of the US economy!! On Aug. 4, 2015 the IMF announced the above SDR changes would NOT occur at the IMF annual meeting to be held in Lima, Peru in Oct-2015! This rejection was pushed by the U.S. based on the fact that China’s debt is 280% of their GDP, thus too weak to be part of the SDR. Then on Nov. 13, 2015, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the fund now deemed the yuan “meets the requirements to be a ‘freely usable’ currency” — a key hurdle to joining the yen, dollar, pound, and euro as a leading unit in international trade. This implied the yuan (same as ‘renminbi’-RMB- when used as an external currency) could be formally admitted to the IMF’s “special drawing rights” currency basket at the IMFs’ Nov. 30, 2015 meeting in Sweden. Indeed! At the meeting the IMF announced their approval of the Chinese renminbi as one of the world’s main central bank reserve currencies, and part of the SDR. As shown in Table 1 below, minor changes in the percent of each currency in the SDR left the USA almost the same. The changes took effect on Oct. 1, 2016.
Russia: Vladimir Putin, at the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi, on Oct.24, 2014, said, “Russia is making strides in assembling a massive new trading bloc known as the Eurasian Union. When it opened for business on January 1, 2015, Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan became a barrier-free market with 170 million people and a GDP of $2.7 trillion..” The Union will further reduce demand for the USD, and thus reduce its value (purchasing power).
Many financial people expected a sharp market reaction such as reduction of the USD value (USDX.com, Bloomberg.com) now that it had more competition, plus an uptick in gold (due to the weaker USD), but gold actually dropped $60 per oz. (4.9%) from Sep.30 to Oct. 5, 2016. I attribute the gold decline to buyers knowing about the Oct. 1 change a year in advance.
The IMF decision will help pave the way for broader use of the renminbi in trade and finance, securing China’s standing as a global economic power. Chinese leaders view it as a giant step up for their place in world economics! The trouble is that much of the increase in demand for the yuan/renminbi will reduce demand for the USD, and its purchasing power will fall even faster. Peter Schiff (SchiffGold.com) said: “Another issue is a possible Chinese move to un-peg the yuan from the dollar, which could set off an earthquake. When the Chinese decide to abandon their peg both for the Hong Kong dollar and the yuan – that is going to be a 10.0 on the Richter scale of economic activity. That is going to be huge. This time, it’s going to be the dollar that takes it on the chin.”
We will soon see!
To gain even more credibility, China may announce their current holdings of gold, which have been secret since revealed as 1,054 tonnes in 2009. They probably have over 5,000 tonnes now, which would make them a close second to the 8,134 tonnes the US ‘claims’ to have (probably much less due to sales and hypothecation – using as collateral for loans)! The changes China made in Aug-2015 to devalue the yuan (to increase exports), have added to the complexity! All of the above changes are aimed at ending the USD Status as the World’s Primary Reserve Currency, weakening the USD, and the associated control the USA has on world transactions and conduct.
The Eurozone: Nations that use the euro currency have their own set of problems related to decline of the euro and the increase of intervention in their sovereign affairs by the EU and its bank. The huge Deutschebank is in big trouble, including trillions of derivatives. For more, search for articles about ‘EU exit’ and ‘Brexit’.
The above discussion shows there is much support for replacing the USD reserve status with ‘something’.
Conclusion: How the BRICS Plan to Replace the USD as the World’s Primary Reserve Currency
During the last 40 years, there has been much discussion worldwide about how a new world currency (a new SDR?) could be ‘substituted’ for all of the different currencies that exist today. This would give power to the group (the IMF?) that manages it, and in a perverse way could help the U.S. abrogate its $20 Trillion debt, and reduce losses for holders of USD denominated bonds, by avoiding a crash of the USD! The word ‘substitution’ is used below when a new currency replaces, or redeems, another.
Please excuse the need to type the two links below into your PC, but space does not allow a full printing of the text.
a) The link below, from Feb-2011, plus a printed excerpt from the first few pages, gives background on how the ‘substitution’ concept got started, and how long its supporters have been pushing for it.
Title: “IMF Calls for Dollar Alternative”
By Ben Rooney, staff reporter February 10, 2011
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The International Monetary Fund issued a report Thursday, Feb. 8, 2011 on a possible replacement for the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
The IMF said Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, could help stabilize the global financial system.
SDRs are potential claims on the currencies of IMF members. They were created by the IMF in 1969 and can be converted into whatever currency a borrower requires at exchange rates based on a weighted basket of international currencies. The IMF typically lends countries funds denominated in SDRs
While they are not a tangible currency, some economists argue that SDRs could be used as a less volatile alternative to the U.S. dollar. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, managing director of the IMF, acknowledged there are some “technical hurdles” involved with SDRs, but he believes they could help correct global imbalances and shore up the global financial system.
“Over time, there may also be a role for the SDR to contribute to a more stable international monetary system,” he said. The goal is to have a reserve asset for central banks that better reflects the global economy since the dollar is vulnerable to swings in the domestic economy and changes in U.S. policy.
In addition to serving as a reserve currency, the IMF also proposed creating SDR-denominated bonds, which could reduce central banks’ dependence on U.S. Treasuries. The Fund also suggested that certain assets, such as oil and gold, which are traded in U.S. dollars, could be priced using SDRs.
Oil prices usually go up when the dollar depreciates. Supporters say using SDRs to price oil on the global market could help prevent spikes in energy prices that often occur when the dollar weakens significantly.
Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said at a conference in Washington that IMF member nations should agree to create $2 trillion worth of SDRs over the next few years.
SDRs, he said, “will further diversify the system.”
b) The article in the link below was written by Willem Middelkoop in Aug-2016. He is the author of The Big Reset, first published in 2013. In 2007 his first book was published in the Netherlands, titled Als de dollar valt (When the dollar falls). He surveys how ‘substitution’ has been discussed for over 40 years, and is getting more active. A few pages are shown below.
Title: “IMF’s ‘Substitution Fund’ to kick-start SDR as New Global Currency?”
After seven years of Chinese pressure, a plan allowing investors to exchange their U.S. Treasury holdings for SDRs through a ‘substitution fund’ is being discussed. Most people still have no clue what form the unfolding financial endgame will take. As interest rates have reached a level not seen in 500 years, many are now starting to agree major monetary changes are needed urgently.
Two major problems need to be addressed.
First we will need to find a new anchor for the world’s monetary system, and
Second, worldwide debt restructurings, comparable to debt jubilees in ancient times, have to be arranged. Debt jubilees are still a step too far in the current global mental state, hence full focus is on the structuring of a new anchor. Since the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, the Chinese have pressured the U.S. to change the current dollar-based monetary system. The Chinese, ever more in the driving seat of global finance, have made it very clear that the Special Drawing Rights (SDR or IMF-money) of the IMF is the preferred future international world reserve currency. A great example of China’s frustration over U.S. monetary policies can be found in comments distributed by the Chinese official state press agency Xinhua a few years ago; ‘Politicians in Washington have done nothing substantial but postponing once again the final bankruptcy of global confidence in the U.S. financial system’ These words echoed complaints about the dollar from Zhou Xiaochuan, the most powerful Chinese central banker and governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), shortly after the fall of Lehman Brothers. He claimed the dollar has led to increasingly frequent global financial crises since the collapse in 1971 of the Bretton Woods system, when President Nixon cancelled the gold backing of the greenback. In an article published on the PBoC’s website, in 2009, he called for ‘a sweeping overhaul of the global monetary system’ and proposed for the dollar to be replaced by the IMF’s Special Drawing Right (SDR). The SDR, an international reserve currency (asset) created by the International Monetary Fund in the late 1960s, could serve ‘as the light in the tunnel for the reform of the international monetary system’, he believes.
Thank you for your interest in learning about this very important topic. In the next few years, I believe we will see action on the ideas mentioned (or radical new ones!). All persons and firms should be diligent to minimize any bad effects of the changes, or even find some ways to gain!
Dave Redick (BS-Engineering, MBA- Economics) writes to expose inept and corrupt activity in government, and offers solutions that will lead to more Liberty, Peace, Justice, and Prosperity for All. See his blog at www.Forward-USA.org and contact him at [email protected] .