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.

Currencies: war, tragedy or farce?

Feb 8, 2011 12:46 UTC

Call it what you like — war, tragedy or farce — but the disagreement over global currency exchange rates shows no sign of coming to a peaceful negotiated agreement.

Asked last week if loose Federal Reserve monetary policy was to blame for inflation in emerging markets, Ben Bernanke stoutly denied that it was anything to do with him, maintaining in central banker-speak that he’d been tucked up in bed at home at the time.

“I think it’s entirely unfair to attribute excess demand pressures in emerging markets to U.S. monetary policy, because emerging markets have all the tools they need to address excess demand in those countries,” the Fed chief told reporters assembled at the National Press Club in Washington.