by Ron Paul
We frequently hear the financial press refer to the U.S. dollar as the “world’s reserve currency,” implying that our dollar will always retain its value in an ever shifting world economy. But this is a dangerous and mistaken assumption.
Since August 15, 1971, when President Nixon closed the gold window and refused to pay out any of our remaining 280 million ounces of gold, the U.S. dollar has operated as a pure fiat currency. This means the dollar became an article of faith in the continued stability and might of the U.S. government.
In essence, we declared our insolvency in 1971. Everyone recognized some other monetary system had to be devised in order to bring stability to the markets.
Amazingly, a new system was devised which allowed the U.S. to operate the printing presses for the world reserve currency with no restraints placed on it– not even a pretense of gold convertibility! Realizing the world was embarking on something new and mind-boggling, elite money managers, with especially strong support from U.S. authorities, struck an agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in U.S. dollars exclusively for all worldwide transactions. This gave the dollar a special place among world currencies and in essence backed the dollar with oil.
In return, the U.S. promised to protect the various oil-rich kingdoms in the Persian Gulf against threat of invasion or domestic coup. This arrangement helped ignite radical Islamic movements among those who resented our influence in the region. The arrangement also gave the dollar artificial strength, with tremendous financial benefits for the United States. It allowed us to export our monetary inflation by buying oil and other goods at a great discount as the dollar flourished.
In 2003, however, Iran began pricing its oil exports in Euro for Asian and European buyers. The Iranian government also opened an oil bourse in 2008 on the island of Kish in the Persian Gulf for the express purpose of trading oil in Euro and other currencies. In 2009 Iran completely ceased any oil transactions in U.S. dollars. These actions by the second largest OPEC oil producer pose a direct threat to the continued status of our dollar as the world’s reserve currency, a threat which partially explains our ongoing hostility toward Tehran.
While the erosion of our petrodollar agreement with OPEC certainly threatens the dollar’s status in the Middle East, an even larger threat resides in the Far East. Our greatest benefactors for the last twenty years– Asian central banks– have lost their appetite for holding U.S. dollars. China, Japan, and Asia in general have been happy to hold U.S. debt instruments in recent decades, but they will not prop up our spending habits forever. Foreign central banks understand that American leaders do not have the discipline to maintain a stable currency.
If we act now to replace the fiat system with a stable dollar backed by precious metals or commodities, the dollar can regain its status as the safest store of value among all government currencies. If not, the rest of the world will abandon the dollar as the global reserve currency.
Both Congress and American consumers will then find borrowing a dramatically more expensive proposition. Remember, our entire consumption economy is based on the willingness of foreigners to hold U.S. debt. We face a reordering of the entire world economy if the federal government cannot print, borrow, and spend money at a rate that satisfies its endless appetite for deficit spending.
After being immersed in the world of alternative economic analysis for several years, it sometimes becomes easy to forget that most people do not track forex markets, or debt to GDP ratio, or true unemployment, or hunch over IMF white-papers highlighting subsections which expose the trappings of the globalist ideology. Sometimes, you just assume the average person knows what the heck you are talking about. This is, of course, a mistake. However, it is a mistake that is borne from the inadequacy of our age and our culture, and is not necessarily a product of weak character, either of the analyst, or the casual reader.
The great frustration of being actively involved in the Liberty Movement is the fact that many people are rarely on the same page (or even the same book) during political and economic discussion. Where we see the nature of the false left/right paradigm, they see “free democracy”. Where we see a tidal wave of destructive debt, they see a “responsible government” printing and spending in order to protect our “best interests”. Where we see totalitarianism, they see “safety”. Where we see dollar devaluation, they see dollar strength and longevity. Ultimately, because the average unaware citizen is stricken by the disease of normalcy bias and living within the doldrums of a statistical fantasy world, they simply have no point of reference by which to grasp the truth when exposed to it. It’s like trying to explain the concept of ‘color’ to a man who has been blind since birth.
Americans in particular are prone to reactionary dismissal when exposed to facts that disrupt their misconceptions. Our culture has experienced a particularly prosperous age, not necessarily free from all trouble, but generally spared from widespread mass tragedy for a generous length of time. This tends to breed within societies an overt and unreasonable expectation of ease. It generates apathy, and lazines, a crushing blubberous slothful cynicism subservient to the establishment and the status quo. Even the most striking of truths struggle to penetrate this smoky force field of duplicitous funk.
In recent articles, I have outlined the very immediate dangers of several potential economic events that are likely to take place this year, including the exit of peripheral countries from the European Union, the conflict between austerity and socialist spending in France and Germany, the developing bilateral trade agreements between China and numerous other countries which cut out their reliance on the U.S. dollar, and the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will announce QE3 before the end of 2012. All of these elements are leading in one very particular direction: the end of the Greenback as the world reserve currency.
In response to these assertions I have received letters from some people (some of them indignant) questioning how it would be even remotely possible that the dollar could be replaced at all. The concept is so outside their narrow world view that many cannot fathom it.
To be sure, the question is a viable one. How could the dollar be unseated? That said, a few hours of light research would easily produce the answer, but this tends to be too much work for the fly-by-night financial skeptic. Sometimes, the job of the alternative analyst is to make the obvious even more obvious.
So, let’s begin…
The Dollar A Safe Haven?
This ongoing lunacy is based on multiple biases. For some, the dollar represents America, and a collapse of the currency would suggest a failure of the republic, and thus, a failure by them as individual Americans who live vicariously through the exploits of their government. By extension, it becomes “patriotic” to defend the dollar’s honor and deny any information that might suggest it is on a downward spiral.
Others see how the investment world clings to the dollar as a kind of panic room; a protected place where one’s saving will be insulated from crisis. However, just because a majority of day trading investors are gullible enough to overlook the Greenback’s pitfalls does not mean those dangerous weaknesses disappear.
There is only one factor that shields the dollar from implosion, and that is its position as the world reserve currency. Without this exalted status, the currency’s value vanishes. Backed by nothing but massive and unpayable debt, it sits frighteningly idle, like a time bomb, waiting for the moment of ignition.
The horrifying nature of the dollar is that it is only valuable so long as foreign investors believe that we will pay back the considerable debts that we (the American taxpayer at the behest of our criminally run Treasury) owe, and that we will not hyperinflate in the process. If they EVER begin to see their purchases of dollars and treasuries as a gamble instead of an investment, the façade falls away. Yet again this year Congress and the Executive Branch are “at odds” over the expansion of the debt ceiling, which has been raised to levels beyond the 100% of GDP mark:
Barack Obama has made claims that increases in the debt ceiling are “normal”, and that most presidents are prone to hiking the barrier every once in a while. Yet, back in 2006, when George W. Bush increased debt limits, Obama had this to say:
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills…Instead of reducing the deficit, as some people claimed, the fiscal policies of this administration and its allies in Congress will add more than $600 million in debt for each of the next five years…Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here.’ Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
For once, Barack and I agree on something. Too bad the man changes his rhetoric whenever it’s to his advantage.
Today, Obama now asserts that raising the debt ceiling is not an opening for more government spending, but an allowance for the government to pay bills it has already accrued. This is disingenuous and hypocritical prattle. Obama is well aware as are many in Congress that as long as the Federal Government is able to raise the debt ceiling whenever it suits them, they can increase spending with wild abandon. It’s like handing someone a credit card with no maximum limit. For most men, the temptation would be irresistible. Therefore, one can predict with 100% certainty that U.S. spending will never truly be reduced, and that our national debt will mount in tandem until we self destruct.
How has this trend been able to continue for so long? Our private central bank has created the fiat machine by which all economic depravity is possible. Currently, the Federal Reserve is the number one holder of U.S. debt. The Federal Reserve creates its own capital. It prints its wealth from thin air. The dollar, thus, has become its own lynchpin. The secretive institution which has never been subject to a full audit is now monetizing endless debt mechanisms with paper promises. What value would any intelligent investor put on such a fraudulent economic system?
The epic dysfunction of the dollar is rooted in its reliance on perception rather than tangible wealth or strong fundamentals. It is, indeed, like any other fiat unit, with all the inevitable pitfalls built into its structure.
Ironically, the value of the Dollar Index is measured not by its intrinsic buying power, or its historical buying power, but its arbitrary buying power in comparison with other collapsing fiat currencies.
The argument I hear most often when pointing out the calamitous path of the dollar is that it is the go-to safe haven in response to the crisis in Europe. What the financially inept don’t seem to grasp is that the shifting of savings back and forth between the euro and the dollar is just as irrelevant to our currency’s survival as it is to Europe’s. BOTH currencies are in decline, and this is evident by the growing inflationary pressures on both sides of the Atlantic. Ask any consumer in Greece, Spain, France, or the UK how shelf prices have changed in the past four years, and they will say the exact same thing as any consumer in the U.S.; costs have gone way up. Therefore, it makes sense to compare the dollar’s value not to the euro, or to the Yen, but something more practical, like the dollar of the past….
In 1972, just as Nixon was removing the dollar from the last vestiges of the gold standard, a new car cost an average of $4500. A home cost around $40,000. A gallon of gas was .36 cents. A loaf of bread was .25 cents. A visit to the doctor’s office was $25. Wages were certainly lower, but they kept much better pace with the prices of the era. Today, the gap between wages and inflation is insurmountable. The average family is unable to keep up with the flashflood of rising prices.
According to the historic buying power of the dollar, the currency is a poor safe haven investment. With the advent of bailout efforts and debt monetization through quantitative easing, its devaluation has been expedited dramatically. The Fed has left the door open for what I believe will be a final destructive round of publicly announced QE, weakening the dollar to near death:
The question then arises; why do foreign countries continue to buy in on the greenback?
The Dollar Dump Has Already Begun
One of my favorite arguments by those defending the dollar is the assertion that no foreign country would dare to dump the currency because they are all too dependent on U.S. trade. To answer the question above, the reality is that foreign countries ARE already calmly and quietly dumping the dollar as a global trade instrument.
To those people who consistently claim that the dollar will never be dropped, my response is, it already has been dropped! China, in tandem with other BRIC nations, has been covertly removing the greenback as the primary trade unit through bilateral deals since 2010. First with Russia, and now with the whole of the ASEAN trading bloc and numerous other markets, including Japan. China in particular has been preparing for this eventuality since 2005, when they introduced the first Yuan denominated bonds. The bonds were considered a strange novelty back then, especially because China had so much surplus savings that it seemed outlandish for them to take on treasury debt. Today, the move makes a whole lot more sense. China and the BRIC nations today openly call for a worldwide shift away from the dollar:
With the global proliferation of the Yuan, and the conversion of the Chinese economy away from dependence on exports (especially to the West) towards a more consumer based system, the Chinese have effectively decoupled from their reliance on U.S. markets. Would a collapse in the U.S. hurt China’s economy? Yes. Would they still survive? Oh yes. Far better than America would, at least…
In 2008, I warned of this development and was attacked on all sides by more mainstream economists and Keynesian proponents who stated that such a development was impossible. Today, it’s common knowledge that our primary creditors are “diversifying” away from the dollar, though MSM talking heads and those who parrot them still claim that this is not a threat to our economy.
To be clear, the true threat to the dollar’s supremacy is not only due to the constant printing by the private Federal Reserve (though that is a nightmare in the making), but the loss of faith in our currency as a whole. The Fed does not need to throw dollars from helicopters to annihilate our currency; all they have to do is create doubt in its viability.
The bottom line? A dollar collapse is not “theory” but undeniable fact in motion at this moment, driven by concrete actions on the part of the very nations that have until recently propped up our debt obligations. It is only a matter of time before the dollar diminishes and fades away. All signs point to a loss of reserve status in the near term.
What Will Replace The Dollar?
My next favorite argument in defense of the Greenback is the assertion that there is “no currency in a position to take the dollar’s place if it falls”. First of all, this is based on a very naïve assumption that the dollar will not fall unless there is another currency to replace it. I’m not sure who made that rule up, but the dollar is perfectly able to be flushed without a replacement in the wings. Economic collapse does not follow logical guidelines or the personal pet peeves of random man-child economists.
Though, to be fair, and to educate those unaware, there IS a replacement already conveniently ready to roll forward. The IMF has for a couple of years now openly called for the retirement of the dollar as the world reserve currency, to be supplanted by the elitist organization’s very own “Special Drawing Rights” (SDR’s):
The SDR is a paper mechanism created in the early 1970’s to replace gold as the primary means of international trade between foreign governments. Today, it has morphed into a basket of currencies which is recognized by almost every country in the world and is in a prime position to take the dollar’s place in the event that it loses reserve status. This is not theory. This is cold hard reality. For those who claim that the SDR is not considered a “real currency”, they should probably warn the U.S. Post Office, which now uses conversion tables that denominate costs in SDR’s:
So, now that we know a replacement for the dollar is ready to go, the next obvious question would be:
Why would global elites destroy a useful monetary tool like the dollar? Why kill the goose that “lays the golden eggs”?
People who ask this question are simply unable to see outside the fiscal box they have been placed in. For global bankers, a paper currency is not important. It is expendable. Like a layer of snake skin; as the snake grows, it sheds the old and dawns the new.
At bottom, men who promote the philosophies of globalization greatly desire the exaltation of a global currency. The dollar, though a creation of a central bank, is still a semi-sovereign monetary unit. It is an element that is getting in the way of the application of the global currency dynamic. I find it rather convenient (at least for those who subscribe to globalism) that the dollar is now in the midst of a perfect storm of decline just as the IMF is ready to introduce its latest fiat concoction in the form of the SDR. I find the blind faith in the dollar’s lifespan to be rife with delusion. It is not a matter of opinion or desire, but a matter of fact that currencies in such tenuous positions fall, and are in the end replaced. I believe that the evidence shows that this is not random chance, but a deliberate process, leading towards the globalist ideal; total centralization of the world under an unaccountable governing body which operates a global monetary system utterly devoid of transparency and responsibility.
The dollar was a median step towards a newer and more corrupt ideal. Its time is nearly over. This is open, it is admitted, and it is being activated as you read this. The speed at which this disaster occurs is really dependent on the speed at which our government along with our central bank decides to expedite doubt. Doubt in a currency is a furious omen, costing not just investors, but an entire society. America is at the very edge of such a moment. The naysayers can scratch and bark all they like, but the financial life of a country serves no person’s emphatic hope. It burns like a fire. Left unwatched and unchecked, it grows uncontrollable and wild, until finally, there is nothing left to fuel its hunger, and it finally chokes in a haze of confusion and dread…
The world’s financial elite recently met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with discussions on sustaining and replacing the capitalist system they operate. Over the past couple of weeks, George Soros, the IMF and the World Bank have all issued chilling warnings about the possibility of an impending economic collapse. Considering the power and the influence that Soros, the IMF and the World Bank all have over the global financial system, this is very alarming. George Soros said in Newsweek Magazine:
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
In the same article, Soros is quoted as saying that we could soon see the U.S. government using “strong-arm tactics” to crack down on rioting in the streets of major U.S. cities.
All you need to review is a stream of Executive Orders which gives the President of the United States dictatorial powers. Consider the possibility of “rumored FEMA Detention camps” along with Internet “Kill Switch” legislation, that will make it illegal to even write about what others perceive as a “conspiracy theory,” even though any such conspiracy may be true!
The article continues:
“As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. ‘It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.’”
Folks like George Soros are likely anticipating the same kind of a breakdown of society that many survivalists and preppers are getting ready for. If the system goes down, and food, water, medical and other supplies are interrupted, how will you survive? What preparations have you made? In addition, are you part of a community of like-minded individuals who will help you survive? The alternative is to do absolutely nothing and let others prepare your future. Should you plan? Should you pray? Should you fear? Who you trust is more important than ever.
The Obama Administration must be very worried about JP Morgan. Why? JP Morgan has the largest derivative exposure of US banks to the tune of $70.1 trillion. The next four largest banks are also weighed down with derivatives that are worth little or nothing, bets and speculation games of the past. Citibank has $52.1 trillion in total derivatives. Bank of America has $50.1 trillion in derivative debt. Goldman Sachs has 44.2 trillion in derivative debt. HSBC USA has $4.3 trillion in derivatives. Combined, the five biggest commercial banks have $220.9 trillion in total derivative contracts. The real kicker is that the combined assets of those same top five banks is a mere $4.8 trillion, a leverage of 46 to 1. What could go wrong? In 2009 the Financial Accounting Standards Board changed how banks value assets like real estate and mortgage-backed securities to whatever an institution speculates they will fetch in the future.
When combined with a European debt crisis, we have the beginnings of what could the next meltdown from the same junk assets and banker speculations. This is has made Wall Street a truly false economy if there ever was one. To learn more, you can read archived articles and viewpoints here and at Digital Economy.