So Long, Dollar, It's Been Real (Sort of)

The G20 is in Pittsburg, but the world economy seems to have skipped town.  Nobody can find it anywhere—just some old clothes and pieces of straw. The U.S. Dollar is on its way out, too, but it’s likely to make a slow exit.

The stability of American economic growth since WWII has led countries to buy dollars as a safety net for their own currency, e.g. if the yuan went belly up, the Chinese government could sell its dollars to get some quick cash. But America is no longer the safe bet it used to be and even HSBC is looking for the next USD.

What would this mean for America? It would mean less cash is thrown at it solely for the reputation of its currency. Debt would decrease and so would growth, but that’s already happening. As the crisis bulldozes on, the American savings rate is up and jobs are down.

U.S. Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner, is making meaningless-but-politically-correct statements on the dollar’s behalf. “A strong dollar is very important in the United States,” he says. Whatever that is supposed to mean, emerging economies such as China and India are based on the production of goods and services, rather than the shadow-play of financial markets, and are therefore safer bets for those wanting a stable, likely-to-grow currency.

The U.N., in its Conference on Trade and Development report, is strongly critical of the American financial markets’ dominance over the world economic system stating that the fundamentals of real economies, like those of emerging countries, are better suited for positive social gain.

If you read the headlines, it sounds as though someone is about to decide that the U.S. dollar is no longer the world’s reserve currency, but this is not the case. Governments typically hold several different currencies in case their own bites the dust. Foreign governments will decrease the amount of their dollar reserves if there is a more attractive currency emerging, which seems likely in the long term. But in the mean time, the U.S. wants to make that long term as long as possible.

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