And here’s a bonus chart showing the decline in the dollar’s purchasing power from 1913 to 2005:
Last September, I noted:
China will issue a non-Dollar denominated Renminbi bond sale on September 28th (6 Billion Renminbi worth).
Last November, I wrote:
These are headlines from the past 2 days:
- Is China’s Renminbi Already The New Reserve Currency?
- World Bank chief calls for new gold standard
- China Downgrades US Again, From AA To A+, Outlook Negative, Sees “Long-Term Recession”, Blasts QE2, Expects Creditor Retaliation
- Citi: Central Banks Are Going To Start Dumping Dollars In The Coming Weeks
- ICE Starts Accepting Gold As Initial Margin Collateral For All Energy And CDS Trades
It’s not yet clear whether the Renminbi, gold, SDR, Bancor or something else will eventually take the throne of the new world’s reserve currency. See this and this.
And many settlements are still, obviously, being made in dollars.
But there is at least an argument that the dollar has already lost its status as world reserve currency, even if there is no ready replacement to jump into the breach.
In November, the Yuan actually started trading against the Ruble.
Last week, the Bank of India (a state-owned bank, India’s 4th biggest) started trading Yuan for Rupees. See this, this and this.
China Takes Giant Step Towards Making Yuan the World’s Reserve Currency
But all of the foregoing is just background for what happened today.
Specifically, as Tyler Durden reports:
Today’s biggest piece of news received a mere two paragraph blurb on Reuters, and was thoroughly ignored by the broader media. An announcement appeared shortly after midnight on the website of the People’s Bank of China.
Reuters provides a simple translation and summary of the announcement: “China hopes to allow all exporters and importers to settle their cross-border trades in the yuan by this year, the central bank said on Wednesday, as part of plans to grow the currency’s international role. In a statement on its website www.pbc.gov.cn, the central bank said it would respond to overseas demand for the yuan to be used as a reserve currency. It added it would also allow the yuan to flow back into China more easily.” To all those who claim that China is perfectly happy with the status quo, in which it is willing to peg the Renmibni to the Dollar in perpetuity, this may come as a rather unpleasant surprise, as it indicates that suddenly China is far more vocal about its intention to convert its currency to reserve status, and in the process make the dollar even more insignificant.
International Business Times provides further insight:
This is all part of China’s plan for the internationalization of its currency, which may, in the decades to come, threaten the global ‘market share’ of other currencies like the US dollar.
Previously, China also announced that bilateral trades with Russia and Malaysia will begin to be conducted with the yuan and the ruble and ringgit, respectively.
Other moves on the part of China to internationalize its currency include allowing foreign companies to issue yuan-denominated bonds and relaxing rules for foreign financial institutions to access the yuan.
Aside from the efforts of the Chinese government, fundamentals also point to the increasing international popularity of the Chinese currency.
China is already the leading trade partner with Australia and Japan. It’s also the leading or a large trade partner with many of its smaller neighbors. The purpose of having foreign currencies is to conduct foreign trade and investment, so the yuan is expected to become a more attractive currency for China’s trade partners, espeically as the government continues to relax restrictions.
The reason for this dramatic move may be found in what Stephen Roach [former chief economist for Morgan Stanley, and now director of Morgan Stanley Asia] wrote a few days ago in Project Syndicate:
In early March, China’s National People’s Congress will approve its 12th Five-Year Plan. This Plan is likely to go down in history as one of China’s boldest strategic initiatives.
In essence, it will change the character of China’s economic model – moving from the export- and investment-led structure of the past 30 years toward a pattern of growth that is driven increasingly by Chinese consumers. This shift will have profound implications for China, the rest of Asia, and the broader global economy.
Like the Fifth Five-Year Plan, which set the stage for the “reforms and opening up” of the late 1970’s, and the Ninth Five-Year Plan, which triggered the marketization of state-owned enterprises in the mid-1990’s, the upcoming Plan will force China to rethink the core value propositions of its economy. Premier Wen Jiabao laid the groundwork four years ago, when he first articulated the paradox of the “Four ‘Uns’” – an economy whose strength on the surface masked a structure that was increasingly “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and ultimately unsustainable.”
The Great Recession of 2008-2009 suggests that China can no longer afford to treat the Four Uns as theoretical conjecture. The post-crisis era is likely to be characterized by lasting aftershocks in the developed world – undermining the external demand upon which China has long relied. That leaves China’s government with little choice other than to turn to internal demand and tackle the Four Uns head on.
The 12th Five-Year Plan will do precisely that, focusing on major pro-consumption initiatives. China will begin to wean itself from the manufacturing model that has underpinned export- and investment-led growth. While the manufacturing approach served China well for 30 years, its dependence on capital-intensive, labor-saving productivity enhancement makes it incapable of absorbing the country’s massive labor surplus.
Instead, under the new Plan, China will adopt a more labor-intensive services model. It will, one hopes, provide a detailed blueprint for the development of large-scale transactions-intensive industries such as wholesale and retail trade, domestic transport and supply-chain logistics, health care, and leisure and hospitality.
Obviously, a reserve currency would be not only extremely useful, but quite critical in achieving the goal of China’s conversion to an inwardly focused, middle-class reliant society. And even that would not guarantee a smooth transition. However, should China really be on a path to a step function in its evolution, the shocks to the system will be massive. Roach puts this diplomatically as follows:
But there is a catch: in shifting to a more consumption-led dynamic, China will reduce its surplus saving and have less left over to fund the ongoing saving deficits of countries like the US. The possibility of such an asymmetrical global rebalancing – with China taking the lead and the developed world dragging its feet – could be the key unintended consequence of China’s 12th Five-Year Plan.
A less diplomatic version implies that the relationship between China and the US would suffer a seismic shift in which the game theoretical model of Mutual Assured Destruction, and symbiotic monetary and fiscal policies, would no longer exist, allowing China to pursue its fate completely independent of any economic shocks that the increasingly distressed United States may be going through.
And confirming that the PBoC announcement is far more serious than the amount of airtime allotted to it by the mainstream [U.S.] media, is the just released article in Spiegel “China Attacked the Dollar” (google translated):
The Chinese central bank surprised with a spectacular announcement: The would-be superpower wants to handle their entire future foreign trade in yuan, not in dollars. Beijing shakes America’s claim to represent the key currency – with serious consequences for the U.S..
The announcement was inconspicuous , but it has the potential, to permanently change the balance of power on the world currency market: China strengthens the international role of the yuan. All exporters and importers will, this year, be allowed to settle their business with their foreign partners in Yuan, the central bank said on Wednesday in Beijing.
This will respond to the growing importance of the yuan as a global reserve currency. “The market demand for cross-border use of the yuan rises,” said the central bank. The PBoC had previously tested this plan by allowing 67 000 enterprises in 20 provinces to run their business abroad in yuan. The trade volume amounted to the equivalent of €56 billion.
Now the amount of yuan to be extended, it should be handled much more business in Chinese currency – and less in the U.S. Chinese companies trade at present often in dollars, they are thus dependent on the decisions of the U.S. Federal Reserve to pay on it in a rising oil price and will have pay higher transaction fees than necessary. That should change now.
Currently, the People’s Republic can hardly take yuan out of the country and even that is monitored within the boundary of all legitimate capital flows. Chinese exporters have to change a large part of their euro, yen or dollars at a fixed rate revenue in yuan. Foreign companies wishing to do business in China must do so in Yuan, they can exchange their money in the People’s Republic. Tourists are allowed a maximum of 20,000 yuan and exporting. Yuan an international market can not occur – and not on supply and demand-based exchange rate.
Needless to say, should the yuan be seen increasingly as a reserve currency, all of this, and virtually everything else is about to change.
The only question is whether or not the Yuan will cement its status at the top of the currency pyramid by allowing the backing of the currency with individual or a basket of commodities. If that were to happen, it would be the last nail in the coffin of the already terminally ill dollar.
It’s nearing two weeks since unions and their cohorts on the Left have thrown a nationwide fit over Scott Walker’s solution to what is ailing Wisconsin. Unions and Democrats have made Wisconsin their cause célèbre by deploying OFA astroturf, the big talking heads, as well as recruiting just about every known Grateful Dead concert attendee on their mailing lists into Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Democratic state senators (now humorously known as fleebaggers) comically continue to hold the state hostage over an issue of union power, politics and money—nothing more and nothing less.
Despite unions’ long hatred of Scott Walker, the new governor is moving to address both the symptoms of the disease and the disease itself—the public-sector union scheme that has molested Wisconsin’s taxpayers and their children by gaming the system. Unions like Wisconsin’s teachers’ union [WEAC] (which was Wisconsin’s biggest-spending lobby in 2009) have been extraordinarily adept at fixing the system through spending millions to elect politicians who, in turn, reward the unions at the expense of the taxpayers.
Now, in response to Walker’s proposals, the Left has gone overboard in their attempt to protect their stranglehold on Wisconsin taxpayers. Even though unions have made clear that their fight is not about their wages or benefits (they’ve offered concessions), they’ve made the fight all about their “right to be unionized” and the fictitious right to “collective bargaining”—which makes their cause even more despotic.
In making Madison into something reminiscent of the spectacle of the 1960s, unions, Democrats and their liberal cohorts are attempting to make the Wisconsin union battle into a civil rights battle, when it is not. In fact, the Wisconsin fight, when compared to private-sector negotiations is about: 1) the Scope of Bargaining, 2) Union “Income” Security [Right-to-Work vs. Forced Dues], 3) whether Wisconsin should be the unions’ dues collection agency [payroll deduction of dues], and 4) whether public-sector unions should be ‘recertified’ by holding elections every year.
Contrary to the Left’s hyperbole, Scott Walker’s proposals do nothing to eliminate public-sector workers’ right to association, assemblage, or to petition their government. Even pretending that it is a “rights” issue is a mistake. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that requires a government to engage in a back and forth negotiation with a collective of workers. In a poignant piece entitled There is No Right to Collective Bargaining, Public Service Research Foundation President David Denholm summarizes the problem with the unions’ argument, stating:
A law granting public-sector unions monopoly bargaining privileges gives a union, a special interest group, two bites at the apple. First, it uses its political clout to elect public officials. Then it negotiates with the very same officials.
When you consider that between 70 and 80 percent of all local government expenditures are personnel costs, you begin to get an idea of the magnitude of the power such laws give unions.
Not only is there no right to collective bargaining in public employment, it is wrong. Collective bargaining distorts and corrupts democratic government.
Collective bargaining is a process for employer-employee relations that was designed for the private sector. This process served as the model for the development of public-sector collective bargaining without taking into account the fundamental differences between the two sectors.
As Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour explains:
“When they have collective bargaining in Wisconsin, on one side of the table there’s state employee unions or the local employee unions. On the other side of the table are politicians that they paid for the election of those politicians,” Barbour said. “Now, who represents the taxpayers in that negotiation? Well, actually, nobody.”
Even Newsweek’s Evan Thomas noted on Sunday [via Newsbusters]:
The Democrats really depend on these public employee unions in a lot of states for their support and for their political muscle, and public employee unions got a problem here. I want to distinguish between unions and public employee unions. Unions obviously are critical, but in the public sector, public employee unions have a pretty easy time getting a lot of benefits because nobody’s really pushing back all that hard.
Admittedly, Walker’s proposals are a threat to unions in several ways. As Walker’s proposals determine:
- The extent of what unions will be allowed to bargain about. Walker’s proposal limits bargaining to wages only, effectively eliminating the WEA Trust monopoly which gets its money from local school boards and runs it through a union-run insurance company.
- Whether unions can have workers fired for not paying union dues. According to its most recent financial record on file, WEAC (the teachers’ union) raked in over $25 million in 2009. Walker’s proposal makes paying union dues voluntary, as opposed to mandatory. This goes to the lifeblood of any union. If, for example, 20% of those teachers who are currently required to pay union dues as a condition of employment opt out, WEAC could lose up to $5 million a year in revenue. [It is noteworthy that, in the private-sector, the SEIU will be conducting its second strike at a Pennsylvania medical center over the issue of mandatory dues.]
- Whether the state will continue being the unions’ dues collector. Walker’s proposal eliminates’ the employers’ payroll deduction of union dues. Again, while it is commonplace for unions to negotiate payroll deduction, there is nothing anywhere (in private or public sector law) that states that it is an employers’ duty to be a union’s collection agency.
- Whether the unions will have to ‘re-certify’ every year to maintain representational status. Of all of Walker’s proposals, this seems to be one that could be considered a ‘throw away’ item in negotiations. If Walker’s other proposals get enacted, and union-represented employees feel that the union is worthless, they can initiate an election themselves every calendar under existing law [see Section 111.83(5)[h]] .
Given the ability of the unions and their co-conspirators on the Left to hijack the issue in Wisconsin over these last two weeks, there appears no way for a “win-win” compromise to be worked out. One side or the other will win. Either the unions and the Left, or taxpayers will prevail.
If the Left wins, all chances of reforming public-sector unions will be tossed aside by weak-kneed Republicans who will then be held hostage by temper-tantrum throwing Democrats (see Indiana for example). In addition, the Left has already painted the entire Republicans party with bulls eyes and has for years. Therefore, there is no reason for GOP governors like Scott Walker, Chris Christie and John Kasich to back down, which puts the Left in an untenable situation as well.
In the meantime, the disciples of Saul Alinsky will continue their prattle, attempting to convince America that the Battle of Wisconsin is something more than a fight over union power, politics and money…even though it’s not.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
Photo Credit: Tony the Misfit
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