9 Signs That China Is Making A Move Against The U.S. Dollar

The U.S. DollarOn the global financial stage, China is playing chess while the U.S. is playing checkers, and the Chinese are now accelerating their long-term plan to dethrone the U.S. dollar.  You see, the truth is that China does not plan to allow the U.S. financial system to dominate the world indefinitely.  Right now, China is the number one exporter on the globe and China will have the largest economy on the planet at some point in the coming years.  The Chinese would like to see global currency usage reflect this shift in global economic power.  At the moment, most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars and more than 60 percent of all global foreign exchange reserves are held in U.S. dollars.  This gives the United States an enormous built-in advantage, but thanks to decades of incredibly bad decisions this advantage is starting to erode.  And due to the recent political instability in Washington D.C., the Chinese sense vulnerability.  China has begun to publicly mock the level of U.S. debt, Chinese officials have publicly threatened to stop buying any more U.S. debt, the Chinese have started to aggressively make currency swap agreements with other major global powers, and China has been accumulating unprecedented amounts of gold.  All of these moves are setting up the moment in the future when China will completely pull the rug out from under the U.S. dollar.

Today, the U.S. financial system is the core of the global financial system.  Because nearly everybody uses the U.S. dollar to buy oil and to trade with one another, this creates a tremendous demand for U.S. dollars around the planet.  So other nations are generally very happy to take our dollars in exchange for oil, cheap plastic gadgets and other things that U.S. consumers “need”.

Major exporting nations accumulate huge piles of our dollars, but instead of just letting all of that money sit there, they often invest large portions of their currency reserves into U.S. Treasury bonds which can easily be liquidated if needed.

So if the U.S. financial system is the core of the global financial system, then U.S. debt is “the core of the core” as some people put it.  U.S. Treasury bonds fuel the print, borrow, spend cycle that the global economy depends upon.

That is why a U.S. debt default would be such a big deal.  A default would cause interest rates to skyrocket and the entire global economic system to go haywire.

Unfortunately for us, the U.S. debt spiral cannot go on indefinitely.  Our debt is growing far, far more rapidly than our GDP is, and therefore our debt is completely and totally unsustainable.

The Chinese understand what is going on, and when the dust settles they plan to be the last ones standing.  In the aftermath of a U.S. collapse, China anticipates having the largest economy on the planet, more gold than anyone else, and a respected international currency that the rest of the globe will be able to use to conduct international trade.

And China is not just going to sit back and wait for all of this to happen.  In fact, they are already doing lots of things to get the ball moving.  The following are 9 signs that China is making a move against the U.S. dollar…

#1 Chinese credit rating agency Dagong has downgraded U.S. debt from A to A- and has indicated that further downgrades are possible.

#2 China has just entered into a very large currency swap agreement with the eurozone that is considered a huge step toward establishing the yuan as a major world currency.  This agreement will result in a lot less U.S. dollars being used in trade between China and Europe…

The swap deal will allow more trade and investment between the regions to be conducted in euros and yuan, without having to convert into another currency such as the U.S. dollar first, said Kathleen Brooks, a research director at FOREX.com.

“It’s a way of promoting European and Chinese trade, but not doing it with the U.S. dollar,” said Brooks. “It’s a bit like cutting out the middleman, all of a sudden there’s potentially no U.S. dollar risk.”

#3 Back in June, China signed a major currency swap agreement with the United Kingdom.  This was another very important step toward internationalizing the yuan.

#4 China currently owns about 1.3 trillion dollars of U.S. debt, and this enormous exposure to U.S. debt is starting to become a major political issue within China.

#5 Mei Xinyu, Commerce Minister adviser to the Chinese government, warned this week that if the U.S. government ever does default that China may decide to completely stop buying U.S. Treasury bonds.

#6 According to Yahoo News, China has already been looking for ways to diversify away from the U.S. dollar…

There have been media reports this week that China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the body that handles the country’s $3.66 trillion of foreign exchange reserve, is looking to diversify into real estate investments in Europe.

#7 Xinhua, the official news agency of China, called for a “de-Americanized world” this week, and also made the following statement about the political turmoil in Washington: “The cyclical stagnation in Washington for a viable bipartisan solution over a federal budget and an approval for raising debt ceiling has again left many nations’ tremendous dollar assets in jeopardy and the international community highly agonized.”

#8 Xinhua also said the following about the U.S. debt deal on Thursday: “[P]oliticians in Washington have done nothing substantial but postponing once again the final bankruptcy of global confidence in the U.S. financial system”.  The commentary in the government-run publication also declared that the debt deal “was no more than prolonging the fuse of the U.S. debt bomb one inch longer.”

#9 China is the largest producer of gold in the world, and it has also been importing an absolutely massive amount of gold from other nations.  But instead of slowing down, the Chinese appear to be accelerating their gold buying.  In fact, money manager Stephen Leeb says that his sources are telling him that China plans to buy another 5,000 tons of gold.  There are many that are convinced that China eventually plans to back the yuan with gold and try to make it the number one alternative to the U.S. dollar.

So exactly what would happen if the Chinese announced someday that they were going to back their currency with gold and would no longer be using the U.S. dollar in international trade?

It would change the face of the global economy almost overnight.  In a previous article, I described some of the things that we could expect to see happen…

If China does decide to back the yuan with gold and no longer use the U.S. dollar in international trade, it will have devastating effects on the U.S. economy.  Demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt would drop like a rock, and prices on the things that we buy every day would soar.  At that point you could forget about cheap gasoline or cheap Chinese imports.  Our entire way of life depends on the U.S. dollar being the primary reserve currency of the world and being able to import things very inexpensively.  If the rest of the world (led by China) starts to reject the U.S. dollar, it would result in a massive tsunami of currency coming back to our shores and a very painful adjustment in our standard of living.  Today, most U.S. currency is actually used outside of the United States.  If someday that changes and we are no longer able to export our inflation that is going to mean big trouble for us.

The fact that we get to print up giant mountains of money and virtually everyone around the world uses it has been a huge boon for the U.S. economy.

When that changes, the word “catastrophic” is not going to be nearly strong enough to describe what is going to happen.

According to a Rasmussen Reports survey that was released this week, only 13 percent of all Americans believe that the country is on the right track.  But the truth is that these are the good times.  The American people haven’t seen anything yet.

Someday people will look back and desperately wish that they could go back to the “good old days” of 2012 and 2013.  This is about as good as things are going to get, and it is only downhill from here.

Saudi Arabia And China Team Up To Build A Gigantic New Oil Refinery – Is This The Beginning Of The End For The Petrodollar?

The largest oil exporter in the Middle East has teamed up with the second largest consumer of oil in the world (China) to build a gigantic new oil refinery and the mainstream media in the United States has barely even noticed it.  This mammoth new refinery is scheduled to be fully operational in the Red Sea port city of Yanbu by 2014.  Over the past several years, China has sought to aggressively expand trade with Saudi Arabia, and China now actually imports more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States does.  In February, China imported 1.39 million barrels of oil per day from Saudi Arabia.  That was 39 percent higher than last February.  So why is this important?  Well, back in 1973 the United States and Saudi Arabia agreed that all oil sold by Saudi Arabia would be denominated in U.S. dollars.  This petrodollar system was adopted by almost the entire world and it has had great benefits for the U.S. economy.  But if China becomes Saudi Arabia’s most important trading partner, then why should Saudi Arabia continue to only sell oil in U.S. dollars?  And if the petrodollar system collapses, what is that going to mean for the U.S. economy?

Those are very important questions, and they will be addressed later on in this article.  First of all, let’s take a closer look at the agreement reached between Saudi Arabia and China recently.

The following is how the deal was described in a recent China Daily article….

In what Riyadh calls “the largest expansion by any oil company in the world”, Sinopec’s deal on Saturday with Saudi oil giant Aramco will allow a major oil refinery to become operational in the Red Sea port of Yanbu by 2014.

The $8.5 billion joint venture, which covers an area of about 5.2 million square meters, is already under construction. It will process 400,000 barrels of heavy crude oil per day. Aramco will hold a 62.5 percent stake in the plant while Sinopec will own the remaining 37.5 percent.

At a time when the U.S. is actually losing refining capacity, this is a stunning development.

Yet the U.S. press has been largely silent about this.

Very curious.

But China is not just doing deals with Saudi Arabia.  China has also been striking deals with several other important oil producing nations.  The following comes from a recent article by Gregg Laskoski….

China’s investment in oil infrastructure and refining capacity is unparalleled. And more importantly, it executes a consistent strategy of developing world-class refining facilities in partnership with OPEC suppliers. Such relationships mean economic leverage that could soon subordinate U.S. relations with the same countries.

Egypt is building its largest refinery ever with investment from China.

Shortly after the partnership with Egypt was announced, China signed a $23 billion agreement with Nigeria to construct three gasoline refineries and a fuel complex in Nigeria.

Essentially, China is running circles around the United States when it comes to locking up strategic oil supplies worldwide.

And all of these developments could have tremendous implications for the future of the petrodollar system.

If you are not familiar with the petrodollar system, it really is not that complicated.  Basically, almost all of the oil in the world is traded in U.S. dollars.  The origin of the petrodollar system was detailed in a recent article by Jerry Robinson….

In 1973, a deal was struck between Saudi Arabia and the United States in which every barrel of oil purchased from the Saudis would be denominated in U.S. dollars. Under this new arrangement, any country that sought to purchase oil from Saudi Arabia would be required to first exchange their own national currency for U.S. dollars. In exchange for Saudi Arabia’s willingness to denominate their oil sales exclusively in U.S. dollars, the United States offered weapons and protection of their oil fields from neighboring nations, including Israel.

By 1975, all of the OPEC nations had agreed to price their own oil supplies exclusively in U.S. dollars in exchange for weapons and military protection. 

This petrodollar system, or more simply known as an “oil for dollars” system, created an immediate artificial demand for U.S. dollars around the globe. And of course, as global oil demand increased, so did the demand for U.S. dollars.

Once you understand the petrodollar system, it becomes much easier to understand why our politicians treat Saudi leaders with kid gloves.  The U.S. government does not want to see anything happen that would jeopardize the status quo.

A recent article by Marin Katusa described some more of the benefits that the petrodollar system has had for the U.S. economy….

The “petrodollar” system was a brilliant political and economic move. It forced the world’s oil money to flow through the US Federal Reserve, creating ever-growing international demand for both US dollars and US debt, while essentially letting the US pretty much own the world’s oil for free, since oil’s value is denominated in a currency that America controls and prints. The petrodollar system spread beyond oil: the majority of international trade is done in US dollars. That means that from Russia to China, Brazil to South Korea, every country aims to maximize the US-dollar surplus garnered from its export trade to buy oil.

The US has reaped many rewards. As oil usage increased in the 1980s, demand for the US dollar rose with it, lifting the US economy to new heights. But even without economic success at home the US dollar would have soared, because the petrodollar system created consistent international demand for US dollars, which in turn gained in value. A strong US dollar allowed Americans to buy imported goods at a massive discount – the petrodollar system essentially creating a subsidy for US consumers at the expense of the rest of the world. Here, finally, the US hit on a downside: The availability of cheap imports hit the US manufacturing industry hard, and the disappearance of manufacturing jobs remains one of the biggest challenges in resurrecting the US economy today.

So what happens if the petrodollar system collapses?

Well, for one thing the value of the U.S. dollar would plummet big time.

U.S. consumers would suddenly find that all of those “cheap imported goods” would rise in price dramatically as would the price of gasoline.

If you think the price of gas is high now, you just wait until the petrodollar system collapses.

In addition, there would be much less of a demand for U.S. government debt since countries would not have so many excess U.S. dollars lying around.

So needless to say, the U.S. government really needs the petrodollar system to continue.

But in the end, it is Saudi Arabia that is holding the cards.

If Saudi Arabia chooses to sell oil in a currency other than the U.S. dollar, most of the rest of the oil producing countries in the Middle East would surely do the same rather quickly.

And we have already seen countries in other parts of the world start to move away from using the U.S. dollar in global trade.

For example, Russia and China have agreed to now use their own national currencies when trading with each other rather than the U.S. dollar.

That got virtually no attention in the U.S. media, but it really was a big deal when it was announced.

A recent article by Graham Summers summarized some of the other moves away from the U.S. dollar in international trade that we have seen recently….

Indeed, officials from China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa (the latest addition to the BRIC acronym, now to be called BRICS) recently met in southern China to discuss expanding the use of their own currencies in foreign trade (yet another move away from the US Dollar).

To recap:

  • China and Russia have removed the US Dollar from their trade
  • China is rushing its trade agreement with Brazil
  • China, Russia, Brazil, India, and now South Africa are moving to trade more in their own currencies (not the US Dollar)
  • Saudi Arabia is moving to formalize trade with China and Russia
  • Singapore is moving to trade yuan

The trend here is obvious. The US Dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency is ending. The process will take time to unfold. But the Dollar will be finished as reserve currency within the next five years.

Yes, the days of the U.S. dollar being the primary reserve currency of the world are definitely numbered.

It will not happen overnight, but as the U.S. economy continues to get weaker it is inevitable that the rest of the world will continue to question why the U.S. dollar should automatically have such a dominant position in international trade.

Over the next few years, keep a close eye on Saudi Arabia.

When Saudi Arabia announces a move away from the petrodollar system, that will be a major trigger event for the global financial system and it will be a really, really bad sign for the U.S. economy.

The level of prosperity that we are enjoying today would not be possible without the petrodollar system.  Once the petrodollar system collapses, a lot of our underlying economic vulnerabilities will be exposed and it will not be pretty.

Tough times are on the horizon.  It is imperative that we all get informed and that we all get prepared.

Will The Day Of Rage In Saudi Arabia On March 11 Send The Price Of Oil Into Unprecedented Territory?

The price of oil is shaping up to be the number one economic story of 2011, and right now the eyes of the investing world are closely watching the developing situation in Saudi Arabia.  All of the other recent Middle East revolutions have been organized on the Internet, and now all over Facebook and Twitter there are calls for a “Day of Rage” in Saudi Arabia on March 11.  The Saudi monarchy is attempting to head off any protests by promising to give $37 billion in “benefits” to the people and by publicly proclaiming that all political demonstrations are specifically banned.  In addition, the Saudi government is stationing thousands of security forces at various potential “hot spots” around the country.  So far similar measures have not done much to quell unrest in other nations in the Middle East, but Saudi Arabia will be a true test of the revolutionary fervor that is sweeping the region.  The Saudis have a long history of brutally repressing their own people.  They simply do not mess around.  So a revolution in Saudi Arabia will not be nearly as “easy” as it was in Tunisia, Egypt or Libya.  However, if a revolution does sweep across Saudi Arabia, it is going to send the price of oil into unprecedented territory.  Saudi Arabia is the number one exporter of oil in the world, and if their oil fields get shut down even for a little while it is going to have a dramatic effect on the global economy.  With the world already on the verge of a major sovereign debt crisis, the last thing it needs is for the price of oil to start soaring into the stratosphere.

Right now the investing world is not sure what to think about all of this, and financial markets do not like uncertainty.  One piece of really bad news could send markets all over the globe crashing down.

Speculation in oil futures is absolutely rampant.  A recent report on CNN noted the following….

The speculative fervor is so remarkable that the big trading firms now have nearly twice as many long contracts open as they did in 2008, when oil spiked to $147 in the summer, a development that either foreshadowed or caused the global economic meltdown, depending on how you look at it.

In particular, the number of investors that are betting that a revolution in Saudi Arabia is going to send the price of oil up to $200 a barrel has exploded in recent days.

$200 a barrel?

Are people actually betting that is going to happen?

The all-time record is only $147 a barrel.  Just a few months ago it was absolutely unthinkable to most economists that we could potentially see $200 oil in 2011.

But it would be a mistake to assume that a full-blown revolution is guaranteed to break out in Saudi Arabia.  Remember, this is a nation that has a very, very long history of denying even the most basic freedoms to the people.

For example, in Saudi Arabia the practice of any religion other than Islam is strictly forbidden.  By law, citizens of Saudi Arabia are not permitted to change religion.  Even foreign visitors are forbidden to openly practice any other religion.  It is a whole different world.  You cannot go to the store and buy a Bible in Saudi Arabia.  In fact, if you try to pass out Bibles in Saudi Arabia you will be thrown into prison.

Beheadings and other brutal public executions still happen in Saudi Arabia to this day.

So if you plan of being a revolutionary in Saudi Arabia you had better put your big boy pants on, because the Saudis play hardball.

Much of the rest of the globe is desperately hoping that a revolution does not happen in Saudi Arabia because the global economic situation is precarious at best.

In Europe, if the price of oil causes a significant economic slowdown right now it could have global implications.  Moody’s Investors Service just slashed Greece’s debt rating three levels all the way down to B1.  But Greece is far from alone.  Several European governments are finding it much more expensive to finance their debts these days.  We are right on the edge of a major European sovereign debt crisis and the chaos in the Middle East could potentially be just the thing to spark a panic.

The United States could feel a rise in the price of oil even more than Europe because the U.S. economy is so spread out and it is so dependent on products from overseas.

Did you know that in 1960 only 8 percent of the things Americans bought were made overseas but that today 60 percent of the things Americans buy are made overseas?

It’s true.

So what would happen if the cost of transporting all of those products suddenly doubled?  All of the products we buy must be transported somehow, and a rise in transportation costs will be passed on to U.S. consumers.

But the truth is that the pain is already here.  Already, millions of American families are starting to feel some very real financial pain from the chaos in the Middle East.

From February 18th to March 4th, the average price of gasoline in the United States rose 33 cents.  That was the biggest two week increase ever recorded.

Ouch.

The rise in the price of oil has some broader economic implications as well.

The more the price of oil goes up the bigger our trade deficit is going become.  As the trade deficit gets bigger, that means that more money is going out of the country and less money is going to support American businesses and American workers.  When American workers lose jobs, that means that they aren’t producing wealth anymore and they aren’t paying taxes anymore.  Instead, they become a drain on the system as they start receiving government handouts.

When millions of Americans go from being productive, taxpaying workers to unemployed welfare cases it causes our federal budget deficit to become even larger.

Most Americans do not understand how connected our trade deficit and our federal budget deficit really are.  One feeds right into the other.

Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve seems to think that the solution to any economic problem these days is to print more money.

According to Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, if the price of oil goes up high enough, it could force the Federal Reserve to do even more quantitative easing.

Really?

One of the reasons why the price of oil and other commodities has been going up over the last six months is because of all of this reckless money printing.

Now Lockhart is saying that because of the oil price increases they may have to do more money printing?

How bizarre is that?

Unfortunately, several other top Fed officials have dropped hints about a possible “QE3” lately.  It just seems like the insanity never stops.

Let us hope that the Fed does not go there because the U.S. dollar is falling apart fast enough already.

In any event, the rest of 2011 is certainly going to be very interesting to watch.

Even if a revolution does not happen in Saudi Arabia, the price of oil will most likely continue to slowly move higher just as it has been doing for months.

But if a full-blown revolution does happen in Saudi Arabia, it could literally change the global economy almost overnight.  The entire world financial system would be thrown into a state of chaos.

Oil is the lifeblood of the world economy.  Without a continuous supply of very inexpensive oil, life as we know it would dramatically change.  Most of us just assumed that we would always live in a world where we would always have an endless supply of very cheap oil.

Well, the times they are a changing.

You had better buckle up because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

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