The Great Debate (India)
from The Great Debate UK:
Reports that China has asked for a discussion about reserve currencies at next week's expanded Group of Eight summit in Italy has added to confusion about whether the country wants to dethrone the dollar from its status as the world's sole reserve currency. But the very fact the issue has been pushed onto the agenda suggests that a fundamental shift is underway.
Given the U.S. government's enormous borrowing requirements over the next decade to cover the bank bailout, fiscal stimulus and deficits in Social Security and Medicare, the dollar's reserve status depends on emerging markets' continued willingness to accumulate U.S. liabilities rather than switching to other stores of value, such as the euro or the IMF's Special Drawing Right (SDR).
As the largest buyer of U.S. Treasury securities, China can break the dollar's reserve currency status any time it wants. But it would risk large losses on the stock of U.S. debt that it has bought already. The resulting unstable stability is the foreign exchange version of the Cold War stalemate based on "mutually assured destruction".
Senior Chinese officials have given off mixed signals about their intentions.
When pressed, officials have indicated China will continue to stand by the dollar in the short term and denied the country has begun to diversify its official holdings. But that has not stopped People's Bank of China (PBOC) Governor Zhou Xiaochuan floating the idea of shifting to a super-sovereign currency based around the SDR.