Tuesday, March 28, 2023

If the Dollar is Their Superpower - Vox Popoli

 Then their global hegemony is rapidly coming to an end:

The dollar is America’s superpower. It gives Washington unrivaled economic and political muscle. The United States can slap sanctions on countries unilaterally, freezing them out of large parts of the world economy. And when Washington spends freely, it can be certain that its debt, usually in the form of T-bills, will be bought up by the rest of the world.

Sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine combined with Washington’s increasingly confrontational approach to China have created a perfect storm in which both Russia and China are accelerating efforts to diversify away from the dollar. Their central banks are keeping less of their reserves in dollars, and most trade between them is being settled in the yuan. They are also, as Putin noted, making efforts to get other countries to follow suit…

America’s politicians have gotten used to spending seemingly without any concerns about deficits — public debt has risen almost fivefold from roughly $6.5 trillion 20 years ago to $31.5 trillion today. The Fed has solved a series of financial crashes by massively expanding its balance sheet twelvefold, from around $730 billion 20 years ago to about $8.7 trillion today. All of this only works because of the dollar’s unique status. If that wanes, America will face a reckoning like none before.

The decline of the US financial superweapon will be exacerbated by the emergence of China as a financial safe harbor, at least for those who have not spent the last decade attacking it or attempting to subvert it.

The unfolding banking crisis in the US and Europe could highlight China as a “relative safe haven,” economists at Citi said in a note seen by CNBC. The Chinese economy could see accelerated expansion this year, giving the country a “hedge” for growth while economies in the US and Europe face heightened risk of financial disruption, according to the note.

It’s going to be interesting. That’s the only thing we can know for certain. And both one’s investment and consumption should be directed toward hard assets that will hold their value regardless of price levels.