by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
There is a lot of chatter about how the coronavirus economic overreaction and subsequent US bailouts will end the dollar’s reign as the global reserve currency – such wishful thinking is shortsighted and ignores even recent Western capitalist history.
Last November, in a then-boring but now-prescient 10-part series (I socialistically re-interpreted ex-Wall Streeter Nomi Prins’ book Collusion, which chronologically detailed the QE-spreading collusion between G20 central banks since 2008), I wrote the following in Part 3: QE paid for a foreign buying spree: developing countries hurt the most:
“Yet by flooding the world with trillions of dollars via QE the US was able to, paradoxically, maintain dollar dependence despite their crimes. The US dollar share of global reserves today is 62%, almost exactly what it was in 2008. Combined with the other source of the crisis – the euro – the two combine for 82% of global reserves. By comparison, the yuan – which so many predict is about to dethrone the dollar – is at below 2%; I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
But corona is different, right? Two percent and 62% will suddenly change places, right?
No, more QE is more of the same thing, and this is a “thing” which has worked exactly as designed; it is also a “thing” which is never broached in the Mainstream Media: “A way to create debt traps which increase Western control over their neo-imperial subjects. … Neoliberal-capitalism financial policies must be viewed as a neo-imperial tool, of course.”
People are acting as if Western neoliberalism hasn’t worked, LOL? It has worked spectacularly well… but only for their 1% and not for “the nation”, exactly as designed.
Many fine semi-dissident commentators apparently do not follow high finance, nor can they interpret their actions, even though high finance is the West’s vanguard party (thus the theme of my recent series – “bankocracy”); they often incorrectly focus on an easier-to-grasp storyline of nationalist competition, which (like racism, sexism or tribalism) simply cannot ultimately take precedence over class warfare.
I’m not being dogmatic – this simply provides the fullest explanation of economic events. Reject what socialists could call the “conspiracy” of the 1% via class warfare? Then you likely move on to absurd, unprovable “conspiracy theories” involving secret cults, elaborate handshakes, ritual sacrifice, etc.
This is the bottom line which (whom I will call) “dollar-demisers” simply do not understand: For better or for worse (certainly worse), the US and their greenback are still the gold standard when it comes to 1%er perceptions of a safe harbour in a crisis.
This will hold true in 2020 just as it did in 2008.
Many semi-dissident analysts unwittingly take a rather Trotskyist view that capitalism will eventually implode under the weight of its own contradictions. It won’t – some rats always find a way to survive a sinking ship, eh? Thus, open socialist combat is the only way to defeat modern Western capitalism, and also to satisfyingly explain what is going on in the Western Great Recession/Depression 2.
So maybe the yuan will become the dominant currency… but not in two months, nor two years – maybe two decades? That’s a big “maybe”. In my lifetime, I think.…
Until then, please believe me: Western globalisation/neoliberalism has a LOT of ammo, clout, clients, banks, real money, real gold, fake money and paper gold to keep their mighty dollar on top. Socialism teaches us: it is NOT just Americans who will deploy these weapons.
Just look at what high finance did when the corona crisis hit – journalism is just recent history
As soon as the lockdowns hit Western Europe you couldn’t buy a dollar from high finance. Why? Because people were panicking and wanted a safe haven (and had huge bills to pay) – they did not run to the yuan, but the greenback. The yuans ran to the greenback!
(Some Western commentators often act as if China doesn’t know what they are doing by being the second-biggest holder of US Treasuries – as if Beijing is somehow being suckered or something? Similarly, but from the other side of misunderstanding, Trotskyism faults China for playing along with capitalist-imperialists in order to strengthen Chinese socialism. Both views are absurd.)
As the corona overreaction progressed, and even as it became clear that a country with third-world inequality and gaping structural flaws was about to go on lockdown and impoverish half its populace within a season, this country’s currency did not drop in value as it should have – I am speaking of the US.
Fair? No. Reality? Proven. Predictable? Entirely.
Equally unprecedented during these March days was a historic run on physical gold, history’s nostalgic (not current) safe haven, which I would have bought if I could have found any (I actually did not even look, as I have no money). This was a major step in a vital historical trend – let’s call it “fiat regoldification” – but please note: here we are, still using fiat (paper) money. Please note #2: individual 1%ers are still buying (parking their assets) way more in dollars than they are in bars of gold, even if central banks have edged more towards gold than dollars only recently.
What also happened in March? Just like in 2008, the US immediately opened more “currency swaps” – loaning scores of billions of dollars to their main client states to satisfy dollar demand… and make them even more beholden to maintaining dollar supremacy.
And by the end of March the US announced (effectively) $6 trillion in new bailout money. Yet no dollar devaluation, still? Return back to that 62% figure: yes, dollar dominance didn’t increase significantly since 2008, but there was no stagnation because the total reserves held by all central banks has expanded by more than half since 2008.
The “dollar-demisers” just don’t get it – they must live in nationalist vacuums? Germany just announced $1 trillion, after all, right? (France finally announced theirs – just $120 billion… because the global 1%’s plan continues to be “strangle the French model”.) Many nations have announced a similar “devaluation” as well, and they didn’t benefit from the dollar’s perception of unrivalled stability to begin with. The US $6 trillion comes within this critical context. But now extend out your timeframe to 2008 – how much new money has been printed across the G20? In this global context of recent history $6 trillion isn’t much, certainly not enough to ruin the dollar.
But beyond the unshakable perception of stability, the dependance entrapment, and the global money printing bonanza, what’s the biggest reason why everyone is rushing to the dollar? Simple – everyone else’s debt and collateral sucks even harder than it did in 2008: Eurozone bonds, corporate bonds, mortgage/credit card/auto loan-backed securities, overinflated stocks, overinflated real estate, overinflated Da Vincis, Third World investments about to go bust, any-World investments about to go bust post-global corona lockdown – US bonds are still the best, safest place for the 1% to park their savings.
So – don’t get it twisted – the dollar is now stronger than ever in 2020.
Just check the dollar index – it’s up over 20% since 2008, even though they were the cause of the crisis, and for the reasons I listed. The dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all.
You’re underestimating people, and you underestimate how much room the US has
Here’s the thing about people not understanding high finance – they also are too dismissive of them (like with China’s treasury-holding bankers): People mistakenly assume that US bankers are a bunch of rich-kid idiots, and that they do not realise that being viewed so positively by the rabid capitalists of the global 1% undoubtedly gives them unparalleled leverage. No – the US is well-aware that its money machine can go brrrrrr, to use the top meme on this subject, and the dollar will not crater.
So when Neel Kashkari goes on TV and says the Fed has an “infinite amount of cash” it is wrong to make fun of him – the focus should be on the fact that he is taken SOMEWHAT seriously despite making such an economically-illogical claim. He is taken seriously because that is HOW VERY much money the US can print before they imperil the dollar’s reserve currency dominance.
The dollar is used in 40% of the world’s debt, 80% of global payments and nearly 100% of its oil sales – again: the world’s rich want to use dollars. Again, China doesn’t even want to use their own currency – in the past two decades dollar-denominated debt has exploded, and this trend was led by China. And yet we should assume the yuan is on the cusp of replacing the dollar? This unwind will not, I’m sorry to say, happen at corona-speed.
How much room does the Fed have to inject? A lot, depressingly.
(So we’re clear: What is this injecting doing? It is assuming the bad debts/failed investments of multinational high finance dominated by NYC. That total is not some infinite, abstract, undefined mathematical variable. This is what the phrase “picking the winners” means. Nobody is holding a marker with “quadrillion” after the number. )
From $2 trillion in 2008, in late March it was suggested it could hit $10 trillion to stem the corona craziness. That won’t be enough – and the hidden “10-to-1” lever in the $450 billion section of the $2.2 trillion bailout implies that already – but the US probably has $20-30 trillion worth of room before difficulty sets in.
People will fly off the handle at that (mainly Austrians and Chicagoans), but they don’t seem to comprehend reality: the unparalleled demand, the importance of competitive context in currency wars, as well as the political reality that the US as well as their allies (capitalism is collusion) will use all their political and probably military tools to postpone the monetary/political/historical revolution which is fundamentally implied by the end of dollar dominance.
And there’s even more advantages, because bankers are not as dumb as you think.
First of all: duh, they aren’t going to inject it overnight. Did they inject their $4 (or $8) trillion since 2008 overnight? Of course not – the US colluded with other G20 nations for over a decade so that the QE machine could keep going “brrrrrrr” – just at different nodes, as Prins’ books an my series related. The Fed works with other G20 central banks, it must be recognised – nationalism does not supersede a class analysis.
Secondly, it’s crucial to recall that the global 1% forced first Japan then the Eurozone (the biggest competitors of the US, at least until the 2008 crisis & response allowed China to rise so high) to take on austerity, bailouts and multiple Lost Decades which made their debt-to-GDP ratios explode. So this bringing down of the competition is only giving US Treasuries more leeway and power. Modern capitalism IS always international collusion – this didn’t start in 2008.
Of all the major Western economies only Germany and South Korea have good debt-to-GDP ratios, but
Washington the global 1% have simple solutions to force them to increase their debt in order to protect THEIR dollar: Korean reunification, and an end to German strangulation of the Eurozone. If you don’t think they would force to protect THEIR dollar, then you fatally overrate the power of nationalism.
This 1%er collusion is what so many good commentators just can’t see because they reject the class struggle. This is why they are rather absurdly expecting to use only yuan – or maybe euro or yen or loonies – by next Tuesday. The reality is that a socialist victory against predatory capitalists is long, hard and unyielding – this provides great inspiration and creativity when accepted. It does hurt your job opportunities in journalism, though. But many journalists and analysts are happy with just complaining.
So the corona bailouts are NOT going to end global dollar dominance, for all the reasons I’ve listed.
QE provokes inflation, but do you understand inflation? I mean, REALLY?
Corona’s “Great Lockdown” is sure to provoke falls in subservient currencies, but it won’t cause the dollar to double in value, either. That won’t be permitted:
A weak dollar hurts the average American but it certainly helps the sectors of society supported by the 1%: export-driven corporations, debtors (banks) and landlords (rentier exploiters). I explained this in my “bankocracy” series – Part 5: Understanding the West’s obsession with inflation. The 1% only cares about inflation which hurts their investments – they could not care less about rises in the price of bread, metro tokens, rent, etc. This is precisely why the MSM keeps saying how inflation is low… when 99% of their readers think, “No it isn’t.”
Due to this widespread misunderstanding/misinformation regarding inflation, many commentators confuse a rise in domestic prices for key goods with the international strength of the dollar. The former is a domestic concern – domestic inflation will be a result of money-printing. Domestically the dollar has lost an estimated 80% of purchasing power since Nixon went off the gold standard. However, the latter is an international concern and – while no one stays at the top of the hill forever – the US dollar is (of course!) protecting and re-protecting itself via international 1%er collusion to stay there as long as possible regardless of the effect on the average US consumer. What “1%er patriotism” are you talking about, and in the age of globalisation, too?!
Yes, rents and food will go up: No, the dollar will not stop being the international reserve currency. Yes, because you won’t openly support socialism you suffer under a bundle of unjust contradictions and cognitive dissonances.
Again, a class analysis provides a fuller explanation of corona-related high finance machinations than does an analysis based around mere nationalism.
But many of you older readers can, sadly, take this to your graves: the dollar’s dominance is unquestioned and will be defended by the international 1%, just as it has been since 2008, and just as it has been since it ascended the bloody capitalist heap. The 1% has never known eras, epochs, patriotisms, etc., and certainly not since the rise of industrial capitalism.
The problem is not QE, nor is it the “dollar system” – it is the entire system of values encapsulated by “capitalism-imperialism” and undoubtedly in “capitalism with Western characteristics”.
You can find the odd article like Pandemic proves there is only one world reserve currency, but this article gave the real reasons why; only a socialist microscope can reveal the core economic truth.
I could be wrong – and so could that article – about 20-30 more years of dollar dominance. Maybe the corona overreaction will set off a Great Depression so unmanageable that a socialist revolution occurs quite soon? That’s the only possible way the dollar is dethroned earlier.
(Of course, according to logic, any uprising which is not openly pro-socialist – and is thus pro-capitalist – cannot be a “revolution” at all. The development of post-corona “coups” would produce regimes which would – at best – still certainly collaborate with the dollar for national benefit.)
The West has no solution – wants no solution – wants only more of all this capitalist-imperialist chaos for the 99%… and thus corona immediately kicked off the “solution” of QE Infinity. No Western nation’s 1% is going to stop colluding to make that continue.
So keep your yuan under your mattress – infinity won’t end next Tuesday. I hope you find this article useful in your leftist struggle!
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis, and I hope you will find them useful in your leftist struggle!
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the upcoming ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.