Stiglitz not to be outdone by Pimco, Buffett

August 21, 2009

The future of the dollar has been all the rage this week as Warren Buffett and Pimco portfolio manager Curtis Mewbourne chimed in about its demise as a store of value. It somehow seems appropriate then that Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who is no stranger to the debate, would weigh in on the need for a new reserve currency at a conference in Bangkok.

From the Reuters article:

A new global reserve system is needed after the global financial crisis exposed the U.S. dollar-based system as flawed and risky, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said on Friday.The “dollar now is yielding almost zero return,” Stiglitz said in a speech at the United Nations regional headquarters in Bangkok. “The current global reserve system is fraying. It’s falling apart. The issue isn’t whether we go to a new system. The question is do we do so in an orderly or disorderly way.”

The build up of the U.S. deficit, debt and “the boiling up of the balance sheet” is cause for anxiety, he said.

But then again, Stiglitz has been calling for such a system at least since 2006. Here he is in an op-ed from the New York Times:

Underlying the current imbalances are fundamental structural problems with the global reserve system. John Maynard Keynes called attention to these problems three-quarters of a century ago. His ideas on how to reform the global monetary system, including creating a new reserve system based on a new international currency, can, with a little work, be adapted to today’s economy. Until we attack the structural problems, the world is likely to continue to be plagued by imbalances that threaten the financial stability and economic well-being of us all.

Stiglitz also headed a UN panel that earlier this year that championed the idea.

As long the dollar continues to slide, looks like this is going to be a theme that keeps on giving even though most in the foreign exchange market think an alternate to the buck as the reserve currency of choice is decades away if it happens at all.


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