The U.S. Dollar
Stored up for future crises at the moment in the U.S. are:
- A 'hung' government where President Obama's administration does not have enough power to legislate as they want. The Republicans, while they have enough power to stop Obama's legislation, don't have enough power to get their own through. This is the last situation the U.S. wants right now. It will ensure that each crisis gets to the brink before action is taken. Even then we may tip over the brink. This will shake global confidence in the dollar and produce ratings agency downgrades for and in the U.S.
- A potential debt crisis from the federal government down through individual States such as California, Wisconsin and the rest. These are of a size that makes the Eurozone crises look tame.
- A governmental budget deficit that is not being addressed properly. We will see the first such game of brinkmanship when the time comes to legislate an increase in borrowing limits, soon.
- The U.S. Treasuries are over half owned by foreigners essentially subsidizing U.S. low interest rates.
- A loss of global power, as China's growth, not only will eclipse that of the U.S. (China's economy will be double the present day's by 2020) but will see manufacturing move to China from the U.S. a process well underway already.
- The future prospect that the dollar will lose its role as the sole global reserve currency to the yuan and perhaps a basket of other hard currencies of which it will remain only a lesser part.
The Falling Dollar and Other Currencies
The dollar won't fall in isolation. Its trading partners cannot afford to allow their exports to suffer at the hands of a weak dollar. As we have seen all too clearly in the last few years, the trading partners of the U.S. intervene in the foreign exchanges to weaken their own currencies (in the face of a surplus on their Balance of Payments) to retain export competitiveness. We are of the opinion that central banks have and will be operating in the foreign exchanges to hold key exchange rates (such as the $:€) within a narrow trading band to give the false appearance of stability. To date this has led to the export of inflation as the money created in QE has seeped into the emerging nations as 'hot money' deposits. We believe that this will continue until interest rates start to rise in the U.S. Then like a reversing ripple of water that hot money will stream home to repay the original loan. This will create major capital flow problems as it exits its emerging nation home to the U.S.
The net result will be that the bulk of the world's foreign exchanges will look relatively stable as they all sink in value together. Hence all falls in the dollar will be temporary in the future. How can this be measured? We expect that assets, in particular precious metals will rise against them all as they have been doing this century already. Even if the yuan becomes a global reserve currency, we don't expect it to appreciate against the dollar. Global currencies will then cease to operate as measures of value but will be used simply as a means of exchange with constantly varying sets of values.
As we look at the performance of the dollar in the last couple of years, we think that much of this falling value has been absorbed in deflation and will only become apparent once inflation takes off (rapidly when it happens). Overall the monetary system will prejudice the surplus nations like China. We expect them to take measures to protect themselves against this, which will see the dollar (and its following currencies) falling lower still. The net result will be a move toward gold along the lines suggested by the head of the World Bank, as a reference point of value.
Once it is in the interests of the main global trading blocs and or individual nations, Tariffs, Capital Controls and even in some cases Exchange Controls will be used to block imports of cheap goods, outflows of 'hot money' and permit the rebuilding of manufacturing in nations where it has been lost. Just as sanctions produced an economic boom of note in Rhodesia, so will these sets of controls.
It will see globalization retreat as nations just will not cooperate on an international front at the expense of national interests now. International trade and capital movements will require money that is not influenced by national conditions and remains highly liquid. Gold and eventually silver can carry this role in extreme times (as collateral, not as a means of exchange).
Gold as Part of the Global Monetary System
Such an opportunistic set of principles underlying the global monetary system that we see now will savage the remaining confidence in it. Some anchor values will then have to be incorporated into the system to stop its complete decay.
While gold has been moving back into the system tacitly, through the cessation of gold sales, by the developed world and the buying of gold by the emerging world, there is no public recognition of gold in the system. We do believe it is there already. For instance the 'gold – currency swaps' executed with the Bank for International Settlements was used last year by debt-distressed central banks to secure foreign currencies to assist in their (sovereign debt) market defense. These guaranteed repayment by the debtor nation of their 'rescue funds'. It was by these golden guarantees that the loans to the nations were secured. They had nothing else of independent value with which to do it. This method neatly avoided using gold publicly and to the shame of the debtor nation. If they fail to repay the retention of that gold by the B.I.S. will nail the coffin closed on that country's creditworthiness.
Should this involve one of the major world powers in the future the global economy will then have two sides, the emerging Asian nations and the declining developed world. We have no doubt that Asia will then be the main reforming force in the reformation of the global monetary system.
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