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February 17th, 2014
If there’s one thing that’s certain about what’s happening in the world right now it’s that uncertainty is pervading every aspect of the global economy. From fabricated employment statistics and consumer spending reports to obscene levels of debt and a failing domestic monetary policy, the writing is on the wall.
According to top Casey Research analyst Marin Katusa, who has met with energy ministers and business leaders in over 100 countries, it’s only a matter of time before the world’s reserve currency goes the way of the German Reichsmark and Zimbabwe Dollar.
What we’re talking about here is nothing short of an outright collapse of our banking system, hyperinflation of the US dollar, and a complete destruction of the world as we have come to know it.
This is a must-watch for those trying to understand what’s happening with the economic landscape, how to position yourself for an unprecedented paradigm shift in how Americans live their lives, what to expect as this crisis unfolds, and how to find opportunities when everyone else is in panic mode.
If the petro-dollar ends, the American way of life will be something that will be destroyed.
The inflation will be over 100% because Americans are getting their lifestyle subsidized by the rest of the world.
This is a very complicated issue… but to be summed up quickly, the world has already started trading commodities and oil, not in the petro-dollar.
And if the petro-dollar finally does die, the American way of life is gone.
(Full interview and transcript via Future Money Trends)
When that happens – when the rest of the world finally turns its back on the United States – you’d better be positioned in the right assets… tangible assets.
Failure to do so will leave you exposed to a financial collapse unlike anything we’ve ever seen in America.
You want to invest in gold… and that’s why you really want to invest in tangible assets… because the bank system will crash.
And I’m not trying to be a doom and gloom guy, this is just factual.
You want to invest in silver, and gold, and companies that produce what the rest of the world wants, which is gold and silver.
It should be clear that China, Russia, oil-producing nations and emerging markets are positioning themselves for exactly what Marin Katusa describes. They have already established unilateral agreements to replace their petro-dollar transactions with either their own currencies or gold. When the timing is right, they’ll pull the plug, at which point all hell will break loose.
The only assets that will survive the destruction will be physical goods such as those commodities essential to survival – food, energy, water, etc.
On the monetary front, when the dollar becomes worthless, confidence in the system itself will be lost on a global scale. We saw similar effects in 2008, when banks refused to lend to businesses, individuals and even themselves for fear of counter party risk. This will leave only one viable mechanism of exchange that will be trusted by trading partners. If you happen to own some, then while everyone else is trying to figure out how to acquire food or pay for other needs, you’ll be thriving.
Insiders and the well informed like Doug Casey, Rick Rule, and Eric Sprott who want to protect and preserve their wealth are already diversifying out dollar-denominated assets. Foreign governments are doing the same, to the tune of billions of dollars being used to buy up assets in the gold production and mining sector (something sovereign wealth funds also did back in late 2008 at the height of the crisis):
The money now is showing up. For example, Rick [Rule] went and got Korean money, and then also Chinese Money. That’s a billion and a half dollars that is coming in to this sector. K.K.R, a major fund, has now put up a billion and a half dollars to set up shop in Calgary for the junior resource sector. You see a lot of funds now, starting to say, “hey, we are getting back in to the junior resource sector because it is so cheap.”
If you go to the BRI website, they talk about all of the big shareholders. You have Tocqueville, Sprott, Sun Valley, KCR…
There’s a reason that well known investment firms run by contrarians like Sprott and Casey are buying gold. Because they know what is coming down the pike.
Yellen is going to continue where Bernanke left off, with the troubles. And the reality is, this is going to make a stronger bull market for gold and silver, and it’s going to be even a better market for the junior resource sector.
If gold and silver are heading to new highs it’s because something has gone terribly wrong in our economy and financial markets.
That being said, if gold is rising and the dollar is collapsing then in all likelihood we’ll see stratospheric price increases in everything from food to fuel, so preparing a contingency plan for this scenario is absolutely critical.
The scenario described here, as noted by Marin Katusa, is not just doom and gloom. It’s fact. The system as we know it is under pressure from all sides. When it implodes you’d better be ready.
Sometimes, perhaps all too often; investors, traders, economists, and mainstream media anchors miss the forest and see only the trees (growing to the sky or crashing to the floor). To provide some context on the markets, we present the first of three posts of long-term chart series (and by long-term we mean more than a few decades of well-chosen trends) – stock, bond, gold, commodity, and US Dollar prices for the last 240 years…
American Markets Since Independence
The Gold Price
The Crude Oil Price
The US Dollar
H/t @Macro_Tourist for these increble charts
Of course, as we have noted in the past, Nothing lasts forever… (especially in light of China’s earlier comments )
Activist Post: Top Adviser To The Chinese Government Calls For A “Global Currency” To Replace The U.S. Dollar
The former chief economist at the World Bank, Justin Yifu Lin, is advising the Chinese government that the time has come for a single global currency. Lin, who is also a professor at Peking University, says that the U.S. dollar “is the root cause of global financial and economic crises” and that moving to a “global super-currency” will bring much needed stability to the global financial system. And considering how recklessly the Federal Reserve has been pumping money into the global financial system and how recklessly the U.S. government has been going into debt, it is hard to argue with his logic.
Why would anyone want to trust the United States to continue to run things after how badly we have abused our position? The United States has greatly benefited from having the de factoreserve currency of the planet for the past several decades, but now that era is coming to an end. In fact, the central bank of China has already announced that it will no longer be stockpiling more U.S. dollars.
The rest of the world is getting tired of playing our game. Our debt is wildly out of control and we are creating money as if there was no tomorrow. As the rest of the world starts moving away from the U.S. dollar, global power is going to shift even more to the East, and that is going to have very serious consequences for ordinary Americans.
Sadly, most Americans don’t even realize what is happening. These comments by a top adviser to the Chinese government should have made front page news all over the nation. I had to go to China Daily to find the following excerpt…
The World Bank’s former chief economist wants to replace the US dollar with a single global super-currency, saying it will create a more stable global financial system.
“The dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises,” Justin Yifu Lin told Bruegel, a Brussels-based policy-research think tank. “The solution to this is to replace the national currency with a global currency.”
Lin, now a professor at Peking University and a leading adviser to the Chinese government, said expanding the basket of major reserve currencies — the dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and pound sterling — will not address the consequences of a financial crisis. Internationalizing the Chinese currency is not the answer, either, he said.
And this is not the first time that we have heard these kinds of comments coming out of China. For example, Xinhua News Agency called for a “de-Americanized world” back on October 14th…It is perhaps a good time for the befuddled world to start considering building a de-Americanized world.
That particular news agency is controlled by the Chinese government, and if the Chinese government did not approve of that statement it never would have made it into the paper.
Then in November, the central bank of China announcedthat it is going to stop stockpiling U.S. dollars.
Most Americans don’t want to hear this, but what we are witnessing is a massive shift in global power. China is catching up to us in a multitude of ways, and they are getting tired of playing second fiddle to the United States. In fact, China is already surpassing the U.S. in a number of key areas…
-China accounts for more global trade than anyone else in the world.
-China imports more oil from Saudi Arabia than anyone else in the world.
-China imports more oil overall than anyone else in the world.
-It is now being projected that Chinese GDP will surpass U.S. GDP in 2017.
When the rest of the world quits using U.S. dollars to trade with one another and quits lending our dollars back to us at ultra-low interest rates, things are going to start changing very rapidly.
In a previous article, I discussed why having the reserve currency of the world is so important to the United States…
The largest exporting nations such as Saudi Arabia (oil) and China (cheap plastic trinkets at Wal-Mart) end up with massive piles of U.S. dollars.
Instead of just sitting on all of that cash, these exporting nations often reinvest much of that cash into low risk securities that can be rapidly turned back into dollars if necessary.
For a very long time, U.S. Treasury bonds have been considered to be the perfect way to do this. This has created tremendous demand for U.S. government debt and has helped keep interest rates super low. So every year, massive amounts of money that gets sent out of the country ends up being loaned back to the U.S. Treasury at super low interest rates.
And it has been a very good thing for the U.S. economy that the federal government has been able to borrow money so cheaply, because the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries affects thousands upon thousands of other interest rates throughout our financial system. For example, as the rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has risen in recent months, so have the rates on U.S. home mortgages.
Our entire way of life in the United States depends upon this game continuing. We must have the rest of the world use our currency and loan it back to us at ultra low interest rates. At this point we have painted ourselves into a corner by accumulating so much debt. We simply cannot afford to have rates rise significantly.
As the rest of the globe moves away from the dollar, demand for the dollar is going to go down and that is going to cause a lot of inflation – especially for imported goods. So the days of piling lots of cheap plastic stuff made in China into your shopping carts is coming to an end.
And as the rest of the globe moves away from U.S. debt, interest rates are going to go much higher than they are today. Eventually, the U.S. government will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and all loans throughout our entire financial system will have higher interest rates. This is going to cause economic activity to slow down dramatically.
On the global economic stage, China is playing checkers and we are playing chess, and we are getting dangerously close to checkmate.
Meanwhile, China is also rapidly catching up to us militarily.
At a time when U.S. military spending is actually decreasing, China is spending money on the military aggressively.
In 2014, Chinese military spending will rise to $148 billion, which represents an increase of 6 percent over 2013.
The balance of power is shifting right in front of our eyes.
For example, at one time the U.S. Navy reigned supreme and the Chinese Navy was a joke.
But now that is rapidly changing. The following is from an article posted on military.com…
The Chinese navy has 77 surface combatants, more than 60 submarines, 55 amphibious ships and about 85 missile-equipped small ships, according to the report first published by the U.S. Naval Institute. The report explains that more than 50 naval ships were “laid down, launched or commissioned” in 2013 and a similar number is planned for 2014.
Of particular concern is the growth of the Chinese submarine fleet. The Chinese now have submarine launched ballistic missiles with a maximum range of about 4,000 miles…
ONI raised concerns about China’s fast-growing submarine force, to include the Jin-class ballistic nuclear submarines, which will likely commence deterrent patrols in 2014, according to the report. The expected operational deployment of the Jin SSBN “would mark China’s first credible at-sea-second-strike nuclear capability,” the report states.
The submarine would fire the JL-2 submarine launched ballistic missile, which has a range of 4,000 nautical miles and would “enable the Jin to strike Hawaii, Alaska and possibly western portions of CONUS [continental United States] from East Asian waters,” ONI assessed.
In addition, China is also working on “hypersonic glide vehicles” that can travel “at speeds of up to Mach 10 or 7,680 miles an hour”. The following is an excerpt from a recent Washington Free Beacon article…
The Washington Free Beacon first disclosed China’s Jan. 9 flight test of a hypersonic glide vehicle that the Pentagon has called the WU-14.
The experimental weapon is a new strategic strike capability China’s military is developing that is designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses. China could use the vehicle for both nuclear and conventional precision strikes on targets, including aircraft carriers at sea.
U.S. officials said that, while the glide vehicle test was not an intelligence surprise, it showed China is moving much more rapidly than in the past in efforts to research, develop, and test advanced weaponry.
The world is changing, and the United States is not the only superpower anymore. China is thriving and Russia is also on the rise. Five years from now, the world is going to look far, far different than it does today.
In the end, most Americans will have no idea what is happening until it is far too late to do anything about it.
This article first appeared here at the American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.
We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Chucked something in the wash and turned it on too high, only to see it pop out at the end of the cycle and it ends up the size of your hamster. Well, Obama has been doing the same. Except this time it’s not your winter woollies that he’s shrinking, it’s the greenback.
The US currency is shrinking as a percentage of world currency today according to the International Monetary Fund. It’s still in pole position for the moment, but business transactions are showing that companies around the world are today ready and willing to make the move to do business in other currencies.
The US Dollar has long been the world’s number one denomination in world currency supply. It represents 62% of total holdings in foreign exchange in central banks around the world. But, it is in for a tough race from up-and-coming strong currencies. The Japanese Yen and the Chinese Yuan are both giving the Americans a good run for their money. The Swiss franc is too (surprisingly). There is $6 trillion in foreign exchange holdings around the world at any given time, on average and the US Dollar represents almost two-thirds of that.
The fact that Brazil and China have also just signed a currency-swap deal worth something to the tune of $30 billion stands as living proof that the dollar may be further on the wane. China will exceed all expectations in the future as the world’s largest economy. The US will be overtaken. The Chinese currency will one day overtake the Dollar too. Has to be!
Although, it’s not quite there for the moment. China is not near being the world’s reserve currency yet. In order to be the world’s reserve currency there would be the need to produce enormous quantities of what the world wants. China has got that one off pat already. Then, countries holding the reserve currency would need to be able to spend that currency elsewhere in other countries or find a place to put it while waiting to do so. World capital markets are currently in dollars (40%), which means that there would be no possibility of using the Chinese currency. But, that’s only a matter of time. Some are predicting this will happen pretty soon.
The Federal Reserve has come in for some strong criticism over the unconventional Quantitative Easing methods that have resulted in 3 trillion spanking new dollars rolling off the printing presses. This has certainly brought about some degree of worry around the world that the dollar is not quite as safe as it might have been thought to be in the past. Is the world worrying that the dollar is not as safe a bet as it used to be in world domination. Are central banks worried that it will shrink in the wash and the colors will run?
Some are predicting that the dollar will shrink rapidly over the next two years and it will lose its top place as the world’s reserve currency by 2015. In the 1950s the dollar was 90% of total foreign currency holdings around the world. The dollar has definitely lost out to other currencies that are stronger. If there is a continued move and the dollar shrinks, then the resulting catastrophe that will ensue will have a spiral effect on the already enormous US budget deficit (over $1 trillion a year on average).
The only reason the Federal Reserve has been in a position to print more money recently is simply because they are in the strong position to be able to do so as the world’s leading reserve currency. If that changes, then the Americans won’t have the possibility of just hitting the button and setting the printing presses rolling. That means the US will be in no other position than to end up having to pay their debt back.
The US economy and the market are starting to show signs of recovery. Signs. It’s not sustained, hope as they might. If the dollar loses its attraction, then it won’t be used as the international reserve currency. Businesses will start using another currency and the dollar will lose out further still.
Some experts are saying that the problems of the dollar are like a time-bomb ready to explode. Ultimately, it will bring about the death of the dollar. As we stand on and watch, huddled around the coffin as it is lowered into the ground, we know it’s all too late. The flowers have been sent and the Stars and Stripes has been played in recognition of loyal service for the nation.
The QE methods are nothing more than aiding and abetting the already problematic situation of the greenback. We might look back in years to come and reminisce over whether it was the right (long-term) solution to use QE, whether printing bucks sent the greenback to an early grave, or whether it just reached the end of its life and croaked peacefully without making too much noise.
But, criticism of and worry over the dollar and its longevity have been hot topics for years now. The US dollar is a fiat currency that can easily lose status, deriving its value from government regulation and law. But, then again, so is the Euro. So, people living in Europe shouldn’t start throwing stones…they live in glass houses too…and that’s before they start.
Originally posted: Death of the Dollar
You might also enjoy: You’re Miserable USA! | Emerging Markets: Lock, Stock and Barrel | End of the Financial World 2014 | Kristallnacht on Wall Street? Bull! | China’s Credit Crunch | Working for the Few | USA:The Land of the Not-So-Free
Why would the central bank of Nigeria decide to sell dollars and buy Yuan?
At first glance it might not seem the most interesting or pressing question for you to consider. But I think it is one of those little loose threads that if pulled upon carefully begins to unravel the hints and traces of a much larger story. But please be warned this is speculative.
Two days ago the Nigerian Central Bank announced it was going to increase the share of its foreign currency reserves held in Yuan from 2% at present, to up to 7%. To do this it was going to sell US Dollars. Now a 5% swing in anything financial is big. In our debt drunk times it’s difficult somethimes to remember that 2.15 billion dollars (which is what 5% comes to) is actually a great deal of money, even if it is less than a drop in America’s multi trillion dollar debt ocean. On the other hand even a 5% increase in Yuan would still leave 80% of Nigeria’s $43 billion worth of reserves in dollars.
BUT while it is small in raw financial terms I think it is significant in geopolitical terms.
Nigeria is Africa’s second largest oil and gas exporter. It holds as many dollars as it does because oil is sold in dollars. Nigeria gets paid in dollars which it then needs to recycle. This is the famous petrodollar in action. It is also a major reason the dollar is still the world’s major reserve currency and that in turn is why America can have such a monumental pile of debt and still (for now) be the risk-off haven that institutional investors run to when other currencies and markets become too risky and unstable.
What interest me is that prior to this announcement from Nigeria’s central bank, China has, for some years now, been working hard and succesully to buy exploitation rights in Nigeria’s oil fields. In 2009 The Wall Street Journal reported,
Chinese companies have proposed investing $50 billion to buy 6 billion barrels of oil reserves in Nigeria, the African nation’s presidential adviser on energy said Tuesday.
A year later in 2010 the WSJ reported,
Nigeria and China have signed a tentative deal to build three oil refineries in the West African state at a cost of $23 billion, in a move to boost badly needed gasoline supply in Nigeria and to position China for more access to the country’s coveted high-quality oil reserves.
And just last year China extended a $1.1 billion loan in return for a reported agreement that oil exports to China would increase from around 20 000 barrels a day to 200 000 per day by 2015. This loan was on top of a range of development agreements betwen the two countries for various infrasctructure projects such a telecoms and railways.
Nigeria had, as of 2011, over 37 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. China is now one of its major trading partners. China wants Nigerian oil and my guess is that if it isn’t doing so already it is going to trade it entirely in Yuan. Such a move would mean Nigeria would need fewer dollars and more Yuan and the PetroYuan would begin to rise at the expense of the Petrodollar.
For some years now China has been making the Yuan a settlement currency. I have written about this a lot over the years. In 2012 I wrote a piece called “A new reserve currency to challenge the dollar – What’s really going on in the Straits of Hormuz.” China has created a series of bilateral settlement agreements with, among others, the EU, South Korea, Iran, India and Russia. All of these agreements by-pass the US dollar. If China now trades its oil in Yuan where will that leave the dollar? Of course Saudi would never agree to such a thing, would it?
Now Its a long way from Nigeria’s 200 000 barerels a day to overthrowing the dollar as the premiere oil currency. But let’s face it the US has gone to war on more than one occasion recently in part because the country involved had been going to sell its oil in Euros. And the US is Europe’s friend, isn’t it?
The US hawks have always been afflicted with dominophobia – fear of falling dominoes. Somewhere in a room in the Pentagon or Langley, there is a huddle of spooks, military types, oil men and State department advisors all wondering how to prevent this new creeping menace. Because you cannot afford to be complacent you know. It starts in one country and if you don’t do something other’s will follow and before you know it the rich Western Africa oil bonanza is flowing into Yuan, to be followed by all those North African and Middle Eastern Arab Spring countries where the clean-cut boys are already having to ‘advise’ on the need to take a firm line with potentially anti-American Muslim Brotherhood types by locking them up, shooting them and generally branding them as terrorists.
What would happen, someone will mention almost in a whisper, if Qatar were to triumph over Saudi and then cut a multi-lateral deal to sell its gas in Euros to Europe and in Yuan to China?
But to return from the overheated imaginations of the Virginia Hawks to some sort of reality, Nigeria is increasing its Yuan reserve at the expense of the dollar and is developing far closer ties to China than to the US. Which is why I think you will soon find the US dramatically increasing its involvement, both financial and military, in Angola.
Angola is going to be America’s answer to China’s Nigeria. And I think the signs are already there.
While in Nigeria Chinese companies are expanding, in Angola the big players are the Western Oil majors: Chevron/Texaco(US), Exxonmobil (US), BP (UK), ENI (Italy), Total (FR), Maersk (DK) and Statoil (NOR). There are others but these are the big players. Of these Total is probably the largest presence producing about a third of all Angola’s oil output. And Total has recently increased its presence. Of the others Chevron is one of the largest and is expanding aggressively.
Angola itself is busy selling off new concessions. 10 new blocks containing an estimated 7 billion barrels of oil, which is over half of all Angola’s proven reserves are to be auctioned this year. Angola has recently edged ahead of Nigeria to be Africa’s largest oil exporter. If I’m correct I expect the Western nations/companies, led by the US and new best war-buddy, France to make sure the Chinese do not get a large share of the spoils. One to watch.
As part of this new Western push, I expect to see China also restricted in any new oil fields around Sao Tome and Principe. The big players to date are Chervon, Exxonmobil and Nigeria. The latter suggesting a way in for the Chinese that I think the Westerners will want to push shut. To which end what I found interesting about recent events in Soa Tome and Principe is the visit there of Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s President for life. I have written about her and her banking empire in The Eurofiscal Corruption Contest – The Portuguese entry. Isobel is most often refered to as Africa’s or Angola’s most famous business woman or Africa’s richest woman (She’s a billionaire). Rarely does anyone from the press raise the question of how she became so vastly wealthy.
She made a visit to the islands and both she and Angola’s state companies have begun to invest heavily. Angolan companies now have a very commanding position in the island’s economy and Angola, even though its own people live in poverty, found the money to loan Sao Tome and Principe $180 million which is half of the island’s GDP. Top that Beijing! The Islands are Portuguese speaking, the largest bank is Portuguese, and the islands also house a broadcast station for Voice of America.
I think taken together the signs are that the West, led by America, has in mind to try to contain or perhaps even confront Chinese expansion particularly as it concerns access to oil and gas in West and North Africa, and to rare earth minerals – but that’s another story. I don’t think there can be any doubt that America and Europe are looking at Chinese expansion and its hunger for resources and see a threat. The question is what will they do? America is accustomed to being the hegemonic power and its hawks have proved over and over that they are are quite prepared for military confrontation. The question for them would be how? Invading countries who have – in reality – very little military or economic might is one thing, but directly confronting another superpower is another. I think all sides would see direct and open military confrontation to be out of the question. Not just for military reasons but for global economic ones as well. They need to find ways of fighting that do not sink the world economy – neither its flows of goods and trade , nor its flows of captail and debt. Which is why I wonder about the possibility of seeing an era of new proxy wars being faught out in tit-for-tat destabilization escalating up to protracted gorilla/civil wars.
In West Africa the front line seems to run between Angola and Nigeria. So who would like to play a game of destabilize your neighbour? There is already unrest about Chinese goods flooding Nigeria. How tempting might it be to think about fanning flames of unrest in already unstable Nigeria espeicially in the delta?
In return what would you have to do to re-ignite the lines of mistrust and division which blighted Angola through decades of civil war? Dos Santos and the MPLA may have been the Soviet proxy but he’s a capitalist now. So, how about a nice cold-war style proxy war? I cannot bring myself to believe that no one at the Pentagon has dusted off the old plans for such conflict and set some analysts to working up some new ones with China scribbled in, in place of Russia.
Something is, I suspect, already afoot. One last pull on that little thread, one last detail that makes me wonder. Just last April (2013) the Israeli billionaire, Dan Gertler sold back to the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the oil companies/exploration blocks he had bought from it, but for 300% more than he paid. Anti-corruption campaigners have been up in arms.
Two facts interest me . One, that the purchase was actually financed by Sanangol, the Angolan state oil company (the company from which $32 billion had gone missing. Missing billions: billionaire dos Santos… No connection obviously). The DRC is to pay Sanangol back from oil revenue. Until that time, of course, Sanangol calls the tune. Two, that this oil block lies between the DRC and Angola in what was contested territory but has since been decreed a zone of cooperation.
Now this sale by Gertler could just be a bog standard pillage-Africa deal. And I might well be seeing things that just aren’t there, but why now? This sort of big money, that is connected to the top of the DRC government (how do you think Gertler was able to buy the concession at the price he did? And who do you think might be the, so far, hidden second beneficiary of Gertler’s oil company? The government minister who sold the concession to him in the first place, maybe?) moves when its contacts suggest this is a better time to lock in profit than times to come.
All in all, if I were a religious man, I would be saying a prayer for the children of Nigeria and Angola.
A note on all this speculation and non-financial stuff. I don’t usually write this much speculation but recently I have become more convinced that we are in a watershed in which everything around us, all the rules we are used to, all the lines on the map, are up for grabs and are changing around us. For me, finance is not separate from politics so we have to understand how they rub against one another. I hope you will bear with me.
Some very relevant observations from Louis Gave of Evergreen GaveKal
Who Will The Emerging Markets Crisis Adjust Against?
In last summer’s emerging market sell-off, India was very much at the center of the storm: the rupee collapsed, bond yields soared and equity markets tanked. The Reserve Bank of India responded by raising rates while the government introduced harsh restrictions on gold imports. Promptly, the Indian current account deficit shrank. So much so that, in the current emerging market (EM) meltdown, India has been spared relative to most other current account deficit emerging markets, whether Turkey, Brazil, South Africa or Argentina. And on this note, the inability of the Turkish lira, South African rand, Brazilian real, etc. to hold on to gains after recent hawkish moves by their central banks is problematic. Markets won’t be calmed until there is clear evidence these countries’ current account deficits can improve. But how can these adjustments happen?
The problem is twofold. First, current accounts are a zero sum game, so future improvements in emerging market trade balances have to come at someone else’s expense. Second, we have had, over the past year, only modest growth in global trade; so if EM balances are to improve markedly, somebody’s will have to deteriorate.
When the 1994-95 “tequila crisis” struck, the US current account deficit widened to allow for Mexico to adjust. The same thing happened in 1997 with the Asian crisis, in 2001 when Argentina blew, and in 2003 when SARS crippled Asia. In 1998, oil prices took the brunt of the adjustment as Russia hit the skids. In 2009-10, it was China’s turn to step up to the plate, with a stimulus-spurred import binge that meaningfully reduced its current account surplus.
Which brings us to today and the question of who will adjust their growth lower (through a deterioration in their trade balances) to make some room for Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia…? There are really five candidates:
- China, again? That seems unlikely. Instead, China’s policymakers continue to do all they can to deleverage, despite the cost of a slowing economic expansion. Moreover, mercantilism still rides high in the corridors of power in Beijing and so the willingness to move to a current account deficit is simply not there.
- The US, again? As discussed in our recent book (see Too Different For Comfort), the Federal Reserve’s attitude since the global financial crisis has consistently been one of: “the US dollar is our currency and your problem.” The Fed has been happy to print and devalue the US dollar, leaving other countries to deal with the consequences. The days of the US acting as the backstop in the system are now behind us.
- Oil: In the past, collapsing oil prices have come to the rescue during emerging market crises. Of course, this accentuates problems for the EMs dependent on high energy prices for their growth, but is a boon for others (including India, China, Korea, Turkey). Unfortunately, for now, energy prices are not falling, with some more localized markets, like US natural gas, seeing a surge amid record cold snaps.
- Japan: Japan, which has been such a non-player for twenty years, is once again finding its feet. However, it is doing so by exporting its deflation through a central bank orchestrated currency devaluation. How this “beggar-thy-neighbor policy” will help the struggling emerging markets is hard to see, except perhaps through a) capital flows from rich Japanese savers into by now higher yielding EM debt, or b) import substitution on the part of threatened emerging markets where the end consumers will perhaps replace high priced US dollar/euro denominated imports of manufactured goods for cheaper yen denominated ones?
- Euroland: The currency zone’s slight trade surplus is largely due to Germany. However, Germany’s exports to Turkey, Russia, Brazil, etc., will likely suffer as domestic demand implodes in these countries. In this sense—the euroland will be the likeliest candidate on the other side of the EM current account adjustment. Unfortunately, odds are this will take place through falling European exports rather than rising European imports and/or rising EM exports to the eurozone. This is not a good harbinger for global growth.
In short, either oil collapses very soon, or the US dollar shoots up (with Janet Yellen about to take the helm, is that likely?) or we could soon be facing a contraction in global trade. And unfortunately, contractions in global trade are usually accompanied by global recessions. With this in mind, and as we argued in Eight Questions For 2014, maintaining positions in long-dated OECD government bonds as hedges against the unfolding of a global deflationary spiral (triggered by the weak yen, a slowing China, busting emerging markets and an uninspiring Europe…) makes ample sense.
January 30, 2014
Sovereign Valley Farm, Chile
Zimbabwe. You remember those guys, right?
The country’s plight with its currency became world famous, the butt of untold jokes in economic circles. At its height, hyperinflation in Zimbabwe reached nearly 90 sextillion in 2008.
That’s a 9 with 22 zeros.
To put it in context, if you had 90 sextillion grains of sand, you could cover the entire surface of the earth all the way to the outmost layers of the atmosphere.
Then, in April 2009, the government effectively abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar. The US dollar became the official currency for all government transactions, and US dollars, British pounds sterling, euros, and South African rand became the most widely used tender in circulation.
I’ve traveled to Zimbabwe frequently; they have some of the best stories you could ever hear about standing in line at the banks with wheelbarrows, and using stacks of paper currency at home for toilet paper or furniture.
Given that Zimbabwe is literally THE poster child for hyperinflation over the last half-century, one cannot understate the irony of their latest announcement.
Just yesterday, the government there announced that the Chinese renminbi (among other currencies) will become legal tender in Zimbabwe.
This is big news. As we have discussed so many times in the past, the current fiscal and monetary antics in the United States are absolutely no different than what Zimbabwe employed several years ago.
Zimbabwe printed its currency in nearly infinite quantities. So has the United States. The only difference is that the US dollar is readily accepted around the world thanks to good ole’ American credibility that was built by previous generations.
But that credibility is rapidly deteriorating. And everywhere you look, there are obvious signs that the rest of the world is quickly moving on from the dollar.
Central banks around the world are stocking up on gold. Major powers like China and Russia are calling for a new reserve currency. And a number of nations (Zimbabwe is the latest) have already begun to use other currencies like the renminbi for international trade and central bank reserves.
It’s happening. And it’s one of those things that will play out like what Hemingway wrote about going bankrupt: gradually, then suddenly.
The dollar’s share of global reserves has slowly fallen from roughly 75% in 2001, to just over 60% today.
But the world will eventually reach a bifurcation point where investors, foreign governments, central banks, etc. panic and start rushing for the exits.
It’s something that could happen tomorrow. Or five years from now. No one knows. But rational, intelligent people shouldn’t be waiting around for it to happen.
I very strongly recommend that you take a portion of your savings and move them into real assets– precious metals and productive land are the most obvious. But even things like collectibles or nonperishable goods (like ammunition) would be preferable to US dollars.
Then there’s other currencies that you can hold. Right now, the Norwegian krone has the strongest fundamentals in the world as it is backed by the most solvent central bank on the planet.
The Hong Kong dollar is also an interesting option because it minimizes your downside currency risk while providing protection against the US dollar’s deterioration.
(Premium members: please refer to your SMC welcome guide for actionable information about holding Hong Kong dollars and Norwegian krone.)
It seems the “dollar is a reserve currency for ever and ever” propaganda has not reached Africa, also known as Southern China as explained here two years ago, where moments ago the Central Bank of Nigeria issued the following surprise announcement:
- CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA TO SELL DOLLARS TO DIVERSIFY RESERVES
- NIGERIA CENTRAL BANK TO RAISE SHARE OF YUAN TO 7% FROM 2%
- NIGERIA CENTRAL BANK TO DIVERSIFY RESERVES INTO YUAN
- NIGERIA CENTRAL BANK CONSIDERING DIM SUM BOND: MOGHALU
But why would anyone buy Yuan when there are so many ever-more diluted dollars available? And now, let’s open it up for the most creative Nigerian email scam involving Chinese Yuan…
We hear, read and listen day in and day out that it’s the Dollar that’s dead, that’s it’s the USA that will be knocked off the top of the roost and come hurtling to the ground with its neck being throttled by 1.364 billion Chinese hoards. We learn that it’s the USA that is the corrupt one and that the Federal Reserve can’t solve the financial woes of the country. The banks don’t have the money and no end of Quantitative Easing will solve the problem. But, it’s the Middle Kingdom that looks as if it’s in for a rough ride now as the credit crunch gets ready to punch the Chinese guys right in the eyeballs.
The People’s Bank of China has announced that it’s going to be delaying transfers of cash funds in both Dollars and also Yuan. Hey! I thought the Yuan was meant to be the up-and-coming world reserve currency that knew no problems and felt no crisis? It was only the Dollar that suffered, wasn’t it? The People’s Bank has invoked the need to update systems and do some maintenance. Apparently, it’s nothing to worry about and is just the ‘normal system maintenance’ that always takes place at this time of the Chinese Lunar-New Year celebrations. Transfers will be delayed right after January 30th until February 2nd for domestic transfers and it will continue until February 7th and the end of the holiday for foreign currency transfers.
Right, so there is no problem and the maintenance in the systems are going to take that long to deal with? Let’s hope they don’t get a glitch in there somehow and the entire Chinese banking system goes up in a cloud of mushrooms. There are always delays at the New Year period in China, but, the ones that have taken place in previous years haven’t had the backdrop of the previous problems with liquidity in China. That’s the whole difference in this story and that should be making the rest of us just slightly worried. The Chinese might be stealing the industrial rug from under our feet, but a world without the Chinese finances (at least what they tell us they have) would be a whole different spring roll ahead of us.
Admittedly, as many are willing to express, there is now the race that is on to be the first that predicts the fall of China. But, no need to race, that crystal-ball prediction was forecasted years ago before China even got out of its Communist pants after its long march.
But, today the financial sector in China is having liquidity problems that are getting worse. January 20th saw the interbank rates increase as much as 10%, when the PBOC stepped in. That was an increase from 3% the previous week. It is now at more stable (although still high) levels of 4.65%.
The POBC has urged banks in China to deal better with liquidity in particular at this time of year and to rely less on short-term funding.
But, the holiday-period is a frightening time for the banks as their liquidity drops and therefore trust between the banks gets worse as cash is depleted. The system maintenance comes at a wonderful time. The Chinese are taking a leaf out of the books of the best spin-doctors around and telling the world exactly what isn’t true, but what will be good to hear. Telling us all ‘hey, we’re up it without a paddle’ just isn’t going to instil confidence in the market is it? Welcome to the world of marketing in China.
Lies, lies and wool over your eyes. Until the penny drops, that is.
Originally posted: China’s Credit Crunch
This article was written by Graham Summers and originally published atPhoenixCapitalResearch.com
History is often written to benefit certain groups over others.
Indeed, you will often find the blame for some of the worst events in history placed on the wrong individuals or factors. Most Americans today continue to argue over liberal vs. conservative beliefs, unaware that the vast majority of economy ills plaguing the country originate in neither party but in the Federal Reserve, which has debased the US Dollar by over 95% in the 20thcentury alone.
With that in mind, I want to consider what actually caused the hyperinflationary period in Weimar Germany. Please consider the quote from Niall Ferguson’s book, “The Ascent of Money” regarding what really happened there:
Yet it would be wrong to see the hyperinflation of 1923 as a simple consequence ofthe Versailles Treaty. That was how the Germans liked to see it, of course…All of this was to overlook the domestic political roots of the monetary crisis. The Weimar tax system was feeble, not least because the new regime lacked legitimacy among higher income groups who declined to pay the taxes imposed on them.
At the same time, public money was spent recklessly, particularly on generous wage settlements for public sector unions. The combination of insufficient taxation and excessive spending created enormous deficits in 1919 and 1920 (in excess of 10 per cent of net national product), before the victors had even presented their reparations bill… Moreover, those in charge of Weimar economic policy in the early 1920s felt they had little incentive to stabilize German fiscal and monetary policy, even when an opportunity presented itself in the middle of 1920.
A common calculation among Germany’s financial elites was that runaway currency depreciation would force the Allied powers into revision the reparations settlement, since the effect would be to cheapen German exports.
What the Germans overlooked was that the inflation induced boom of 1920-22, at a time when the US and UK economies were in the depths of a post-war recession, caused an even bigger surge in imports, thus negating the economic pressure they had hoped to exert. At the heart of the German hyperinflation was a miscalculation.
You’ll note the frightening similarities to the US’s monetary policy today. We see:
1 Reckless spending of public money, particularly in the form of entitlement spending
2 Excessive spending resulting in massive deficits.
3 Little incentive for political leaders to rein in said spending.
4 Intentional currency depreciation in order to make debt payments more feasible.
This sounds like a blueprint for what US leaders (indeed most Western leaders) have engaged in post-2007. The multi-trillion Dollar question is if we’ve already crossed the line in terms of setting the stage for massive inflation down the road.
We believe that it is quite possible… for the following reasons.
The US now sports a Debt to GDP ratio of over 100%.
Every 1% rise in interest rates will result in over $100 billion more in interest payments on US debt.
Indications of inflation (stealth price hikes, wage protests, etc.) are showing up throughout the economy.
Indications that other countries are moving to abandon the US Dollar are present.
In a nutshell we are in a very dangerous position. This doesn’t mean hyperinflation HAS to occur. Indeed, history often times rhymes rather than repeats. However, the fact of the matter is that the same policies which create Weimar Germany are occurring in the US today. How they play out remains to be seen, but it is unlikely it will end well.