Opinion

James Saft

Good riddance to dollar hegemony

May 19, 2011 14:52 UTC

James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — While the U.S. will fight it kicking and screaming, the dollar’s upcoming fall from its central global role will be a blessing all round.

The World Bank on Tuesday predicted that the dollar will lose its place by 2025 as the principle global reserve currency, to be supplanted by a multipolar world where it, the euro and the yuan will share top billing.

First off, things have come to a sorry pass when the dollar is going to lose out to two currencies of which one, the euro, many people worry may cease to exist, and the other, the yuan, isn’t even properly convertible.

But beneath the ignominy lies a simple truth: being the world’s main reserve currency is a bit like being a pop star; there are lots of fringe benefits but it is very easy to end up in financial rehab.

There are several supposed central benefits to being the world’s principal reserve currency; lower funding costs, a home-field advantage in financial intermediation and better control over one’s own monetary policy. All three have been a mixed blessing, at best, for the U.S. and may yet turn out to be mostly malign.

Enter the era of dollar devaluation

J Saft
Nov 4, 2010 17:42 UTC

We’ve entered a new era in global financial markets: the U.S. is intentionally devaluing the dollar.

For the U.S., which has long espoused a strong dollar but in reality had a policy of benign neglect, this is the equivalent of pushing the big red eject button in the jet cockpit: something big is going to happen and we will have to see how it will work out.
The Federal Reserve on Wednesday moved to open a second round of quantitative easing, pledging to purchase a total of $600 billion of longer-dated Treasuries between now and the end of the second quarter of next year. As well, the Fed will reinvest $250-300 billion in the same period, meaning that the central bank will be buying up $110 billion a month in Treasuries and creating a like amount of new money out of the ether.

Perhaps the principal way QE will boost the economy, the Fed hopes, is by lowering effective interest rates, enticing investors to move into riskier assets, some of which may generate inflation and jobs. As well there is the wealth effect; the old canard of spending more because your retirement account and house have gone up in nominal terms.

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