The collapse of the euro is accelerating, and it looks like we could be staring a major European financial crisis right in the face early in 2017. On Thursday, the EUR/USD fell all the way to $1.0366 at one point before rebounding slightly. That represents the lowest that the euro has been relative to the U.S. dollar since January 2003. Ever since 2011, I have been relentlessly warning that the euro is heading for parity with the U.S. dollar. When the EUR/USD was trading at about $1.40 that must have seemed like crazy talk, but I never wavered. I just kept warning people that the euro was going to weaken greatly relative to the U.S. dollar. Here is one example from March 2015: “How many times have I said it? The euro is heading to all-time lows. It is going to go to parity with the U.S. dollar, and then it is eventually going to go below parity.” After Thursday, we are almost there, and once we do hit parity that is going to be a sign that all sorts of chaos is about to erupt in Europe.
For years, so many people that write about our coming economic problems have been proclaiming that the death of the U.S. dollar is imminent.
But I have always taken a different approach. I have always maintained that the collapse of the euro comes first, and that the death of the U.S. dollar happens some time later.
So many people have wanted to get rid of all of their dollars in anticipation of the coming crisis, but that is a huge mistake.
First of all, without exception everyone needs an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of expenses in case there is a job loss, a health emergency or all hell breaks loose for some reason.
Secondly, cash is going to be king during the initial stages of the coming crisis. Later on the U.S. dollar will rapidly lose value, but at first it will pay to have significant amounts of cash available to you.
Most people out there seem to think that a strong dollar is great news and that it is a sign of good things to come under Donald Trump.
But the truth is that an overly strong U.S. dollar is actually very bad news for the global economy.
For the U.S., a strong dollar hurts our exports and tends to drag down our GDP.
For the rest of the world, a strong dollar makes it more expensive to borrow money. The economic boom in the developing world following the last financial crisis was fueled by mountains of cheap dollars that were borrowed at ultra-low interest rates. But now the U.S. dollar is surging and interest rates are spiking, and that is starting to cause major problems.
It now takes much more local currency to pay back those dollar-denominated loans that were made in emerging markets during the boom times. If the U.S. dollar continues to rise we are going to see a staggering number of defaults, and a credit crunch in many areas of the globe seems inevitable at this point.
Of course the big thing to keep an eye on over the coming weeks is the rapidly unfolding crisis in Italy. The Italians have the 8th largest economy on the entire planet, and we are in the process of watching their entire banking system completely implode.
In fact, their third largest bank is in imminent danger of collapse, and according to Reuters this could trigger “a wider banking and political crisis in Italy”…
Italy’s government is ready to pump 15 billion euros into Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI) and other ailing banks, sources said, as the country’s third-largest lender pushes ahead with a private rescue plan that is widely expected to fail.
The world’s oldest bank has until Dec. 31 to raise 5 billion euros ($5.2 billion) in equity or face being wound down by the European Central Bank, potentially triggering a wider banking and political crisis in Italy.
If needed, the government will pump 15 billion euros into the Siena-based lender and several other smaller banks to prevent that, two sources close to the matter said on Thursday.
This is so much more serious than the ongoing economic depression in Greece.
Greece is just the 44th largest economy on the planet, and we saw how much trouble Europe had trying to bail them out.
So what is the rest of Europe going to do when financial collapse hits Italy?
Here in the United States very few people are interested in hearing about a “global financial crisis” right at this moment, because in the aftermath of the election most people are feeling really good about where things are heading. Just consider the following three facts that I pulled out of a Bloomberg article…
#1 “The National Association of Homebuilders’ index of sentiment soared to an 11-year high in December, despite the sizable rise in bond yields since the election.”
#2 “The University of Michigan’s December index of consumer confidence also continued its upward post-election trend, rising to 98. A sub-index that tracks respondents’ opinion of the government’s economic policies spiked to levels not seen since 2009.”
#3 “The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ index of optimism among small businesses posted its sharpest surge since 2009 in November to reach 98.4. An expected improvement in business conditions among small business owners surveyed after Nov. 8 was the largest contributor to the improvement in the headline print.”
Hopefully happy days will stick around for a while.
But it won’t last forever.
As I have warned so many times, the coming crisis is going to hit Europe first, and the United States will join the party not too long after.
And a key marker that we have been watching for is almost here. The euro is going to hit parity with the U.S. dollar just like I have been warning, and once that takes place expect events to start accelerating significantly.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has introduced legislation that would deal a tremendous blow to the U.S. dollar. If Putin gets his way, and he almost certainly will, the U.S. dollar will be eliminated from trade between nations that belong to the Commonwealth of Independent States. In addition to Russia, that list of countries includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Obviously this would not mean “the death of the dollar”, but it would be a very significant step toward the end of the era of the absolute dominance of the U.S. dollar. Most people don’t realize this, but more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than are used inside this country. If the rest of the planet decides to stop accumulating dollars, using them to trade with one another, and loaning them back to us at ultra-low interest rates, we are going to be in for a world of hurt. Unfortunately for us, it is only a matter of time until that happens.
When I first read the following excerpt from a recent RT article, I was absolutely stunned…
Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.
This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.
“This would help expand the use of national currencies in foreign trade payments and financial services and thus create preconditions for greater liquidity of domestic currency markets”, said a statement from Kremlin.
For a long time, tensions have been building between the United States and Russia over Syria, Ukraine, the price of oil and a whole host of other issues. But I didn’t anticipate that things would get to this level quite yet. It is expected that Putin’s new bill will become law, and this is only one element of a much larger trend that is now developing.
You see, the truth is that Russia and China have both been dumping dollar-denominated assets for months. The following comes from a recent piece by Mac Slavo…
Last year Russia began unloading massive amounts of their US dollar reserves. In the month of December 2014 alone Putin sold some 20% of the country’s U.S. Treasurys, a move that further increased tensions surrounding what can only be described as economic warfare between East and West.
Then, as if part of a coordinated effort, this summer it was revealed that China had implemented a similar strategy, dumping half a trillion in dollar denominated assets.
But that’s just the beginning of the end for the US dollar. Amid a major meltdown in Chinese stock markets the People’s Republic sold off billions in dollar assets last week in what was reported to be an effort to stabilize their collapsing financial markets.
And now, as Russia’s economy collapses under the weight of American and European sanctions, including what many believe to be widespread downward manipulation of oil prices, Vladimir Putin is sending a clear signal to the central bank of the world’s reserve currency.
And I don’t know if you have noticed, but U.S. relations with China have turned rather sour lately. Lots of accusations about spying and trade violations have been flying around, and just this week five Chinese warships were spotted off the coast of Alaska. In the months ahead, expect our relationship with China to continue to unravel.
If China and Russia were to both fundamentally reject the U.S. dollar at some point, much of the rest of the world may choose to follow suit.
So why is that important?
The fact that most of the nations of the world use our dollars to trade with one another creates a tremendous amount of artificial demand for our currency. In other words, the U.S. dollar is valued much higher than it otherwise would be just because it is the de facto reserve currency of the planet.
As a result, we can import massive amounts of products at super cheap prices. When we go to Wal-Mart or the dollar store, we can fill up our carts with lots and lots of ridiculously inexpensive stuff. Our standard of living is way higher than it actually should be.
And because the U.S. dollar is used so widely in global trade, major exporting nations end up with giant piles of our currency which they have been willing to lend back to us at ultra-low interest rates. This has made it possible to fund our massively bloated federal government and to go 18 trillion dollars in debt.
If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops playing our game, we will be in a tremendous amount of trouble. The cost of imported products would absolutely skyrocket and our standard of living would go way down.
In addition, the federal government (along with state and local governments) would have to pay much more to borrow money which would rapidly create a gigantic debt crisis.
So Russia knows where they could really hurt us. Most of the “power” that America currently projects around the world is based on having the de facto reserve currency of the planet. If you take our financial power away, we would be far, far less imposing on the global stage. Sadly, the truth is that the U.S. military is rapidly shrinking and has largely been defanged by the Obama administration.
A lot of people that will read this article will not understand this, but it is very, very important to keep an eye on this emerging Russian/Chinese alliance. I believe that it is going to play a critical role in world events during the years ahead.
So do you agree with me or do you disagree? Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…
The Chinese do not plan to live in a world dominated by the U.S. dollar for much longer. Chinese leaders have been calling for the U.S. dollar to be replaced as the primary global reserve currency for a long time, but up until now they have never been very specific about what they would put in place of it. Many have assumed that the Chinese simply wanted some new international currency to be created. But what if that is not what the Chinese had in mind? What if they have always wanted their own currency to become the single most dominant currency on the entire planet? What you are about to see is rather startling, but it shouldn’t be a surprise. When it comes to economics and finance, the Chinese have always been playing chess while the western world has been playing checkers. Sadly, we have gotten to the point where checkmate is on the horizon.
On Wednesday, I came across an excellent article by Simon Black. What he had to say in that article just about floored me…
When I arrived to Bangkok the other day, coming down the motorway from the airport I saw a huge billboard—and it floored me.
The billboard was from the Bank of China. It said: “RMB: New Choice; The World Currency”
Given that the Bank of China is more than 70% owned by the government of the People’s Republic of China, I find this very significant.
It means that China is literally advertising its currency overseas, and it’s making sure that everyone landing at one of the world’s busiest airports sees it. They know that the future belongs to them and they’re flaunting it.
This is the photograph of that billboard that he posted with his article…
Everyone knows that China is rising.
And most everyone has assumed that Chinese currency would soon play a larger role in international trade.
But things have moved so rapidly in recent years that now a very large chunk of the financial world actually expects the renminbi to replace the dollar as the primary reserve currency of the planet someday. The following comes from CNBC…
The tightly controlled Chinese yuan will eventually supersede the dollar as the top international reserve currency, according to a new poll of institutional investors.
The survey of 200 institutional investors – 100 headquartered in mainland China and 100 outside of it – published by State Street and the Economist Intelligence Unit on Thursday found 53 percent of investors think the renminbi will surpass the U.S. dollar as the world’s major reserve currency.
Optimism was higher within China, where 62 percent said they saw a redback world on the horizon, compared with 43 percent outside China.
And without a doubt we are starting to see the beginnings of a significant shift.
China’s yuan broke into the top five as a world payment currency in November, overtaking the Canadian dollar and the Australian dollar, global transaction services organization SWIFT said on Wednesday.
The U.S. dollar won’t be replaced overnight, but things are changing.
Of course the truth is that the Chinese have been preparing for this for a very long time. The Chinese refuse to tell the rest of the world exactly how much gold they have, but everyone knows that they have been accumulating enormous amounts of it. And even if they don’t explicitly back the renminbi with gold, the massive gold reserves that China is accumulating will still give the rest of the planet a great deal of confidence in Chinese currency.
But don’t just take my word for it. Consider what Alan Greenspan has had to say on the matter…
Alan Greenspan, who served at the helm of the Federal Reserve for nearly two decades, recently penned an op-ed for the Council on Foreign Relations discussing gold and its possible role in China, the world’s second-largest economy. He notes that if China converted only a “relatively modest part of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves into gold, the country’s currency could take on unexpected strength in today’s international financial system.”
Meanwhile, the Chinese have also been accumulating a tremendous amount of U.S. debt. At this point, the Chinese own approximately 1.3 trillion dollars worth of our debt, and that gives them a lot of power over our currency and over our financial system.
Someday if the Chinese wanted to undermine confidence in the U.S. dollar and in the U.S. financial system, they have a lot of ammunition at their disposal.
And it isn’t just all of that debt that gives China leverage. In recent years, the Chinese have been buying up real estate, businesses and energy assets all over the United States at a staggering pace. For a small taste of what has been taking place, check out the YouTube video posted below…
For much, much more on this trend, please see the following articles…
On a purchasing power basis, the size of the Chinese economy has already surpassed the size of the U.S. economy.
And there are lots of signs of trouble ahead for the U.S. economy at this point. I like how Brandon Smith put it in one recent article…
We are only two months into 2015, and it has already proven to be the most volatile year for the economic environment since 2008-2009. We have seen oil markets collapsing by about 50 percent in the span of a few months (just as the Federal Reserve announced the end of QE3, indicating fiat money was used to hide falling demand), the Baltic Dry Index losing 30 percent since the beginning of the year, the Swiss currency surprise, the Greeks threatening EU exit (and now Greek citizens threatening violent protests with the new four-month can-kicking deal), and the effects of the nine-month-long West Coast port strike not yet quantified. This is not just a fleeting expression of a negative first quarter; it is a sign of things to come.
In addition, things continue to look quite bleak for Europe. Once upon a time, many expected the euro to overtake the U.S. dollar as the primary global reserve currency, but that didn’t happen. And in recent months the euro has been absolutely crashing. On Wednesday, it hit the lowest point that we have seen against the dollar in more than a decade…
The euro last stood at $1.1072, off 0.90 percent for the day and below a key support level, Sutton said. It fell to as little as $1.1066, which was the lowest level for the euro against the dollar since September 2003, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The euro also declined to one-month lows against the Japanese yen, which was flat against the dollar at 119.72 yen to the dollar.
As the U.S. and Europe continue to struggle, China is going to want a significantly larger role on the global stage.
And as the billboard in Thailand suggests, they are more than willing to step up to the plate.
So will the road to the future be paved with Chinese currency? Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…
The Russians are actually making a move against the petrodollar. It appears that they are quite serious about their de-dollarization strategy. The largest natural gas producer on the planet, Gazprom, has signed agreements with some of their biggest customers to switch payments for natural gas from U.S. dollars to euros. And Gazprom would have never done this without the full approval of the Russian government, because the Russian government holds a majority stake in Gazprom. There hasn’t been a word about this from the big mainstream news networks in the United States, but this is huge. When you are talking about Gazprom, you are talking about a company that is absolutely massive. It is one of the largest companies in the entire world and it makes up 8 percent of Russian GDP all by itself. It holds 18 percent of the natural gas reserves of the entire planet, and it is also a very large oil producer. So for Gazprom to make a move like this is extremely significant.
When Barack Obama decided to slap some meaningless economic sanctions on Russia a while back, he probably figured that the world would forget about them after a few news cycles.
But the Russians do not forget, and they certainly do not forgive.
At this point the Russians are turning their back on the United States, and that includes the U.S. dollar.
What you are about to read is absolutely stunning, and yet you have not heard about it from any major U.S. news source. But what Gazprom is now doing has the potential to really shake up the global financial landscape. The following is an excerpt from a news report by the ITAR-TASS news agency…
Gazprom Neft had signed additional agreements with consumers on a possible switch from dollars to euros for payments under contracts, the oil company’s head Alexander Dyukov told a press conference.
“Additional agreements of Gazprom Neft on the possibility to switch contracts from dollars to euros are signed. With Belarus, payments in roubles are agreed on,” he said.
Dyukov said nine of ten consumers had agreed to switch to euros.
And Gazprom is not the only big company in Russia that is moving away from the U.S. dollar.
According to RT, other large Russian corporations are moving to other currencies as well…
Russia will start settling more contracts in Asian currencies, especially the yuan, in order to lessen its dependence on the dollar market, and because of Western-led sanctions that could freeze funds at any moment.
“Over the last few weeks there has been a significant interest in the market from large Russian corporations to start using various products in renminbi and other Asian currencies, and to set up accounts in Asian locations,” Pavel Teplukhin, head of Deutsche Bank in Russia, told the Financial Times, which was published in an article on Sunday.
Diversifying trade accounts from dollars to the Chinese yuan and other Asian currencies such as the Hong Kong dollar and Singapore dollar has been a part of Russia’s pivot towards Asian as tension with Europe and the US remain strained over Russia’s action in Ukraine.
And according to Zero Hedge, “expanding the use of non-dollar currencies” is one of the main things that major Russian banks are working on right now…
Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said that expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. “Given the extent of our bilateral trade with China, developing the use of settlements in roubles and yuan [renminbi] is a priority on the agenda, and so we are working on it now,” he told Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a briefing. “Since May, we have been carrying out this work.”
“There is nothing wrong with Russia trying to reduce its dependency on the dollar, actually it is an entirely reasonable thing to do,” said the Russia head of another large European bank. He added that Russia’s large exposure to the dollar subjects it to more market volatility in times of crisis. “There is no reason why you have to settle trade you do with Japan in dollars,” he said.
The entire country is undergoing a major financial conversion.
So in March, without waiting for the sanction spiral to kick in, Russians yanked their moolah out of US banks. Deposits by Russians in US banks suddenly plunged from $21.6 billion to $8.4 billion. They yanked out 61% of their deposits in just one month! They’d learned their lesson in Cyprus the hard way: get your money out while you still can before it gets confiscated.
Because nearly everyone else around the rest of the planet uses our currency to trade with one another, that keeps the value of the U.S. dollar artificially high and it keeps our borrowing costs artificially low.
As Russia abandons the U.S. dollar that will hurt, but if other nations start following suit that could eventually cause a financial avalanche.
What we are witnessing right now is just a turning point.
The effects won’t be felt right away. So don’t expect this to cause financial disaster next week or next month.
But this is definitely another element in the “perfect storm” that is starting to brew for the U.S. economy.
Yes, we have been living in a temporary bubble of false stability for a few years. However, the long-term outlook has not gotten any better. In fact, the long-term trends that are destroying our economic and financial foundations just continue to get even worse.
In order for our current level of debt-fueled prosperity to continue, the rest of the world must continue to use our dollars to trade with one another and must continue to buy our debt at ridiculously low interest rates. Of course the number one foreign nation that we depend on to participate in our system is China. China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the planet (including the United States), and most of that trade is conducted in U.S. dollars. This keeps demand for our dollars very high, and it ensures that we can import massive quantities of goods from overseas at very low cost. As a major exporting nation, China ends up with gigantic piles of our dollars. They lend many of those dollars back to us at ridiculously low interest rates. At this point, China owns more of our national debt than any other country does. But if China was to decide to quit playing our game and started moving away from U.S. dollars and U.S. debt, our economic prosperity could disappear very rapidly. Demand for the U.S. dollar would fall and prices would go up. And interest rates on our debt and everything else in our financial system would go up to crippling levels. So it is absolutely critical to our financial future that China continues to play our game.
Unfortunately, there are signs that China has now decided to start looking for a smooth exit from the game. In November, I wrote about how the central bank of China has announced that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”. That means that the pile of U.S. dollars that China is sitting on is not going to get any higher.
In addition, China has signed a whole host of international currency agreements with other nations during the past couple of years which are going to result in less U.S. dollars being used in international trade. You can read about many of these agreements in this article.
This week, we learned that China started to dump U.S. debt during the month of December. Many have imagined that China would try to dump a flood of our debt on to the market all of a sudden once they decided to exit, but that simply does not make sense. Instead, it makes sense for China to dump a bit of debt at a time so that the market will not panic and so that they can get close to full value for the paper that they are holding.
As Bloomberg reported the other day, China dumped nearly 50 billion dollars of U.S. debt during the month of December…
China, the largest foreign U.S. creditor, reduced holdings of U.S. Treasury debt in December by the most in two years as the Federal Reserve announced plans to slow asset purchases.
The nation pared its position in U.S. government bonds by $47.8 billion, or 3.6 percent, to $1.27 trillion, the largest decline since December 2011, according to U.S. Treasury Department data released yesterday.
This is how I would do it if I was China. I would try to dump 30, 40 or 50 billion dollars a month. I would try to make a smooth exit and try to get as much for my U.S. debt paper as I could.
So if China is not going to stockpile U.S. dollars or U.S. debt any longer, what is it going to stockpile?
It is going to stockpile gold of course. In fact, China has been voraciously stockpiling gold for quite some time, and their hunger for gold appears to be growing.
According to Bloomberg, more than 80 percent of the gold that was exported from Switzerland last month went to Asia…
Switzerland sent more than 80 percent of its gold and silver bullion and coin exports to Asia last month, the Swiss Federal Customs Administration said today in an e-mailed report. It imported most from the U.K.
Hong Kong was the top destination at 44 percent on a value basis, with India at 14 percent, the Bern-based customs agency said in its first breakdown of the gold trade data since 1980. Singapore accounted for 8.6 percent of exports, the United Arab Emirates 7.9 percent and China 6.3 percent.
When China imports gold, most of it goes through Hong Kong. We know that imports of gold from Hong Kong into China are at an all-time record high, but we don’t know exactly how much gold China has accumulated at this point because they quit reporting that to the rest of the world a number of years ago.
When it comes to global finance, China is playing chess and the United States is playing checkers. China knows that gold is a universal currency that will hold value over the long-term. As the paper currencies of the world race toward collapse, China could end up holding most of the real money and that would be a huge game changer when they finally reveal that fact…
The announcement of China’s new gold hoard will send shockwaves through the financial markets, and make China and the Chinese yuan (their national currency) even bigger players at the international table.
International banking expert James Rickards compared it to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em poker:
“You want a big pile of chips. The U.S. has a big pile of chips, Europe has a big pile of chips. The U.S. has 8,000 tonnes [metric tons] of gold, 17 members of the euro system have 10,000 tonnes. China at 1,000 tonnes is not a player, but at 5,000 tonnes, they are a player.”
There are some really good points made in the quote above, but I do take exception with a couple of things. First of all, I believe that China now has far more than 5,000 tons of gold. Secondly, I seriously doubt that the U.S. still actually has 8,000 tons of gold or that Europe still actually has 10,000 tons of gold.
As China (and eventually the rest of the world) moves away from a U.S.-based financial system, the consequences are going to be dramatic.
For instance, right now the average rate of interest that the U.S. government pays on debt is just 2.477 percent. That is ridiculously low and it is way below the real rate of inflation. It is simply not rational for anyone to lend the U.S. government money so cheaply, and at some point we are going to see a dramatic shift.
When that day arrives, interest rates are going to rise dramatically. And if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rises to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that in the past), we will be paying out more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
Even more frightening is what a rapidly changing interest rate environment would mean for our banking system. There are four large U.S. banks that each have exposure to derivatives in excess of 40 trillion dollars. You can find the identity of those banks right here. Interest rate derivatives make up the biggest chunk of those derivatives contracts. As John Embry told King World News just the other day, when that bubble bursts the carnage is going to be unprecedented…
“Stockman brought up a brilliant point, the fact that we have hundreds of trillions of dollars of interest rate swaps, which are polluting the world’s banking system. If we see growing volatility in interest rates, and I think that’s inevitable with what’s going on, that would cause spasms in the financial system. And if something goes wrong in the derivatives market, Heaven help us because the leverage that is imparted to the banking system through these derivatives is unholy.”
Unfortunately, very few of the “experts” will ever see this crash coming.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2000.
Very few of them saw it coming in 2008.
And very few of them will see it coming this time.
Early warnings of a crash are dismissed over and over (“just a temporary correction”). They gradually numb us about the inevitable. Time after time we forget history’s lessons. Until finally a big surprise catches us totally off-guard. Financial historian Niall Ferguson put it this way: Before the crash, our world seems almost stationary, deceptively so, balanced, at a set point. So that when the crash finally hits — as inevitably it will — everyone seems surprised. And our brains keep telling us it’s not time for a crash.
Till then, life just goes along quietly, hypnotizing us, making us vulnerable, till a shocker like Lehman Brothers upsets the balance. Then, says Ferguson, the crash is “accelerating suddenly, like a sports car … like a thief in the night.” It hits. Shocks us wide awake.
Don’t let the upcoming crash take you by surprise.
China just dropped an absolute bombshell, but it was almost entirely ignored by the mainstream media in the United States. The central bank of China has decided that it is “no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves”. During the third quarter of 2013, China’s foreign-exchange reserves were valued at approximately $3.66 trillion. And of course the biggest chunk of that was made up of U.S. dollars. For years, China has been accumulating dollars and working hard to keep the value of the dollar up and the value of the yuan down. One of the goals has been to make Chinese products less expensive in the international marketplace. But now China has announced that the time has come for it to stop stockpiling U.S. dollars. And if that does indeed turn out to be the case, than many U.S. analysts are suggesting that China could also soon stop buying any more U.S. debt. Needless to say, all of this would be very bad for the United States.
For years, China has been systematically propping up the value of the U.S. dollar and keeping the value of the yuan artificially low. This has resulted in a massive flood of super cheap products from across the Pacific that U.S. consumers have been eagerly gobbling up.
For example, have you ever gone into a dollar store and wondered how anyone could possibly make a profit by making those products and selling them for just one dollar?
Well, the truth is that when you flip those products over you will find that almost all of them have been made outside of the United States. In fact, the words “made in China” are probably the most common words in your entire household if you are anything like the typical American.
Thanks to the massively unbalanced trade that we have had with China, tens of thousands of our businesses, millions of our jobs and trillions of our dollars have left this country and gone over to China.
The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.
“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.
It isn’t going to happen overnight, but the value of the U.S. dollar is going to start to go down, and all of that cheap stuff that you are used to buying at Wal-Mart and the dollar store is going to become a lot more expensive.
But of even more importance is what this latest move by China could mean for U.S. government debt. As most Americans have heard, we are heavily dependent on foreign nations such as China lending us money. Right now, China owns nearly 1.3 trillion dollars of our debt. Unfortunately, as CNBC is noting, if China is going to quit stockpiling our dollars than it is likely that they will stop stockpiling our debt as well…
Analysts see this as the PBoC hinting that it will let its currency fluctuate, without intervention, thus negating the need for holding large reserves of the dollar. And if the dollar is no longer needed, then it could look to curb its purchases of dollar-denominated assets like U.S. Treasurys.
“If they are looking to reduce these purchases going forward then, yes, you’d have to look at who the marginal buyer would be,” Richard McGuire, a senior rate strategist at Rabobank told CNBC in an interview.
“Together, with the Federal Reserve tapering its bond purchases, it has the potential to add to the bearish long-term outlook on U.S. Treasurys.”
So who is going to buy all of our debt?
That is a very good question.
If the Federal Reserve starts tapering bond purchases and China quits buying our debt, who is going to fill the void?
If there is significantly less demand for government bonds, that will cause interest rates to rise dramatically. And if interest rates rise dramatically from where they are now, that will set off the kind of nightmare scenario that I keep talking about.
China accounts for more global trade that anyone else does, and they also own more of our debt than any other nation does. If China starts dumping our dollars and our debt, much of the rest of the planet would likely follow suit and we would be in for a world of hurt.
And just this week there was another major announcement which indicates that China is getting ready to make a major move against the U.S. dollar. According to Reuters, crude oil futures may soon be priced in yuan on the Shanghai Futures Exchange…
The Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) may price its crude oil futures contract in yuan and use medium sour crude as its benchmark, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.
China, which overtook the United States as the world’s top oil importer in September, hopes the contract will become a benchmark in Asia and has said it would allow foreign investors to trade in the contract without setting up a local subsidiary.
If that actually happens, that will be absolutely huge.
China is the number one importer of oil in the world, and it was only a matter of time before they started to openly challenge the petrodollar.
But even I didn’t think that we would see anything like this so quickly.
The world is changing, and most Americans have absolutely no idea what this is going to mean for them. As demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt goes down, the things that we buy at the store will cost a lot more, our standard of living will go down and it will become a lot more expensive for everyone (including the U.S. government) to borrow money.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about any of this at this point. When it comes to economics, China has been playing chess while the United States has been playing checkers. And now decades of very, very foolish decisions are starting to catch up with us.
The false prosperity that most Americans are enjoying today will soon start disappearing, and most of them will have no idea why it is happening.
The years ahead are going to be very challenging, and so I hope that you are getting ready for them.
The death of the dollar is coming, and it will probably be China that pulls the trigger. What you are about to read is understood by only a very small fraction of all Americans. Right now, the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the planet. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and almost all oil is sold for U.S. dollars. More than 60 percent of all global foreign exchange reserves are held in U.S. dollars, and far more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than inside of it. As will be described below, this has given the United States some tremendous economic advantages, and most Americans have no idea how much their current standard of living depends on the dollar remaining the reserve currency of the world. Unfortunately, thanks to reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve and the reckless accumulation of debt by the federal government, the status of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world is now in great jeopardy.
As I mentioned above, nations all over the globe use U.S. dollars to trade with one another. This has created tremendous demand for U.S. dollars and has kept the value of the dollar up. It also means that Americans can import things that they need much more inexpensively than they otherwise would be able to.
The largest exporting nations such as Saudi Arabia (oil) and China (cheap plastic trinkets at Wal-Mart) end up with massive piles of U.S. dollars…
Instead of just sitting on all of that cash, these exporting nations often reinvest much of that cash into low risk securities that can be rapidly turned back into dollars if necessary. For a very long time, U.S. Treasury bonds have been considered to be the perfect way to do this. This has created tremendous demand for U.S. government debt and has helped keep interest rates super low. So every year, massive amounts of money that gets sent out of the country ends up being loaned back to the U.S. Treasury at super low interest rates…
And it has been a very good thing for the U.S. economy that the federal government has been able to borrow money so cheaply, because the interest rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries affects thousands upon thousands of other interest rates throughout our financial system. For example, as the rate on 10 year U.S. Treasuries has risen in recent months, so have the rates on U.S. home mortgages.
Our entire way of life in the United States depends upon this game continuing. We must have the rest of the world use our currency and loan it back to us at ultra low interest rates. At this point we have painted ourselves into a corner by accumulating so much debt. We simply cannot afford to have rates rise significantly.
For example, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt rose to just 6 percent (and it has been much higher than that at various times in the past), we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.
But it wouldn’t be just the federal government that would suffer. Just consider what higher rates would do to the real estate market.
About a year ago, the rate on 30 year mortgages was sitting at 3.31 percent. The monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage at that rate is $1315.52.
If the 30 year rate rises to 8 percent, the monthly payment on a 30 year, $300,000 mortgage would be $2201.29.
Does 8 percent sound crazy to you?
It shouldn’t. 8 percent was considered to be normal back in the year 2000.
Are you starting to get the picture?
We need other countries to use our dollars and buy our debt so that we can have super low interest rates and so that we can afford to buy lots of cheap stuff from them.
Unfortunately, the truly bizarre behavior of the Federal Reserve and the U.S. government over the past several years is causing the rest of the world to lose faith in our currency. In particular, China is leading the call for a “de-Americanized” world. The following is from a recent article posted on the website of France 24…
For decades the US has benefited to the tune of trillions of dollars-worth of free credit from the greenback’s role as the default global reserve unit.
But as the global economy trembled before the prospect of a US default last month, only averted when Washington reached a deal to raise its debt ceiling, China’s official Xinhua news agency called for a “de-Americanised” world.
It also urged the creation of a “new international reserve currency… to replace the dominant US dollar”.
So why should the rest of the planet listen to China?
Well, China now accounts for more global trade than anyone else does, including the United States.
At this point, China is even importing more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States is.
China now has an enormous amount of economic power globally, and the Chinese want the rest of the planet to start using less U.S. dollars and to start using more of their own currency. The following is from a recent article in the Vancouver Sun…
Three years after China allowed the yuan to start trading in Hong Kong’s offshore market, banks and investors around the world are positioning themselves to get involved in what Nomura Holdings Inc. calls the biggest revolution in the $5.3 trillion currency market since the creation of the euro in 1999.
And over the past few years we have seen the global use of the yuan rise dramatically…
International use of the yuan is increasing as the world’s second-largest economy opens up its capital markets. In the first nine months of this year, about 17 percent of China’s global trade was settled in the currency, compared with less than one percent in 2009, according to Deutsche Bank AG.
Of course the U.S. dollar is still king for now, but thanks to a whole host of recent international currency agreements this status is slipping. For example, China just recently signed a major currency agreement with the European Central Bank…
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.”
And as I have written about previously, we have seen a bunch of other similar agreements being signed all over the planet in recent years…
There are four “too big to fail” banks in the United States that each have more than 40 trillion dollars worth of total exposure to derivatives. The largest chunk of those derivatives is made up of interest rate derivatives. In case you were wondering , those four banks are JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.
A huge upward surge in interest rates would absolutely devastate those banks and cause a financial crisis that would make 2008 look like a Sunday picnic.
Right now, the leader in global trade seems content to use U.S. dollars for most of their international transactions. China also seems content to hold more than a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt.
If that suddenly changes someday, the consequences for the U.S. economy will be absolutely catastrophic and every single American will feel the pain.
The standard of living that all of us are enjoying today depends largely upon China. They can bring down the hammer at any moment and they know it.