Currency War

Are you ready for a currency war?  Well, buckle up, because things are about to get interesting.  This week Japan fired what is perhaps the opening salvo in a new round of currency wars by publicly intervening in the foreign exchange market for the first time since 2004.  Japan’s bold 12 billion dollar move to push down the value of the yen made headlines all over the world.  Japan’s economy is highly dependent on exports and the Japanese government was becoming increasingly alarmed by the recent surge in the value of the yen.  A stronger yen makes Japanese exports more expensive for other nations and thus would harm Japanese industry.  But Japan is not the only nation that is ready to go to battle over currency rates.  The governments of the U.S. and China continue to exchange increasingly heated rhetoric regarding currency policy.  In Europe, there is growing sentiment that the euro needs to be devalued in order to help European exports become more competitive.  In addition, exporters all over the world are already loudly complaining about the possibility that the Federal Reserve is about to unleash another round of quantitative easing.  Virtually all major exporting nations want the value of the U.S. dollar to remain high so that they can keep flooding us with lots of cheap goods.  The sad reality is that our current system of globalized trade rewards exporting nations that have weak currencies, and many nations have now shown that they are willing to take the gloves off to make certain that their national currencies do not appreciate in value by too much.

Some nations have been involved in open currency manipulation for some time now.  For example, Singapore is well known for intervening in the foreign exchange market in order to benefit exporters.  Also, the Swiss National Bank experienced losses equivalent to about 15 billion dollars trying to stop the rapid rise of the Swiss franc earlier this year.

But as we race toward the end of 2010, currency manipulation is becoming a major issue on the world stage.

Rumors that the Federal Reserve is considering a substantial new round of quantitative easing is already causing many major exporting nations around the world to howl in outrage. 

Why?

Well, quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve could put substantial downward pressure on the value of the dollar and that would make exports significantly more expensive in the United States.  The reality is that even a relatively small change in the value of the U.S. dollar can have a major impact on exporters.

But what could really set off a massive currency war is the ongoing dispute between the U.S. and China.

For years, China has kept the value of their currency artificially low.  Even though China has made a few small moves toward a more free-floating currency policy, at this point China’s currency is still pretty much pegged to the U.S. dollar.  It is estimated that the Chinese government is keeping China’s currency at a value about 40 percent lower than what it should be.  This is essentially a de facto subsidy to China’s exporters.

This has enabled China to flood the United States with cheap goods and it is killing entire industries in the United States.  Americans have loved rushing out to Wal-Mart to get super low prices on all kinds of stuff, but in the process we have slowly but surely been shipping our manufacturing base and our standard of living over to China.

In recent years both the Bush administration and the Obama administration have been whining about this currency manipulation by China, but both administrations have stopped short of taking any real action.

But are there now signs that the Obama administration is going to get serious and start a currency war? 

Well, last week Barack Obama did send the head of his national council of economic advisers, Larry Summers, to Beijing to discuss currency issues.

But what can we do other than whine at this point?

Are we willing to start a trade war?

Considering the fact that China holds nearly a trillion dollars worth of U.S. Treasuries, that probably would not go so well for us.

Even though China’s currency manipulation is absolutely raping the U.S. economy, China has so much leverage over us at this point that it isn’t even funny.

For example, China has almost a complete and total monopoly on rare earth elements.  If China totally cut off the supply of rare earth elements, we would have no hybrid car batteries, flat screen televisions, cell phones or iPods.  Not only that, but rare earth elements are used by the U.S. military in radar systems, missile-guidance systems, satellites and aircraft electronics.

But something has to be done.  Essentially we are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Today, the United States spends approximately $3.90 on Chinese goods for every $1 that the Chinese spend on goods from the United States. 

Last month, the monthly trade deficit with China was approximately 26 billion dollars.  For the year, the trade deficit with China will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 billion dollars or so.  The transfer of wealth to China that represents is absolutely mind blowing.

The U.S. economy is getting poorer and the Chinese economy is getting richer each and every month.

We are in decline and China is on the rise.  In fact, one prominent economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.

This would not have ever happened if we had not put up with China’s open and blatant currency manipulation all this time.

But now they have us over a barrel and standing up to China would be incredibly painful for the U.S. economy in the short-term.

So will we actually see a currency war break out soon?

Well, it seems almost a certainly that countries throughout the world will continue to manipulate their currencies in order to gain a competitive advantage, but if you are waiting for the Obama administration to truly stand up to China you are probably going to be waiting for a very, very long time.

Bancor: The Name Of The Global Currency That A Shocking IMF Report Is Proposing

Sometimes there are things that are so shocking that you just do not want to report them unless they can be completely and totally documented.  Over the past few years, there have been many rumors about a coming global currency, but at times it has been difficult to pin down evidence that plans for such a currency are actually in the works.  Not anymore.  A paper entitled “Reserve Accumulation and International Monetary Stability” by the Strategy, Policy and Review Department of the IMF recommends that the world adopt a global currency called the “Bancor” and that a global central bank be established to administer that currency.  The report is dated April 13, 2010 and a full copy can be read here.  Unfortunately this is not hype and it is not a rumor.  This is a very serious proposal in an official document from one of the mega-powerful institutions that is actually running the world economy.  Anyone who follows the IMF knows that what the IMF wants, the IMF usually gets.  So could a global currency known as the “Bancor” be on the horizon?  That is now a legitimate question.

So where in the world did the name “Bancor” come from?  Well, it turns out that “Bancor” is the name of a hypothetical world currency unit once suggested by John Maynard Keynes.  Keynes was a world famous British economist who headed the World Banking Commission that created the IMF during the Breton Woods negotiations.

The Wikipedia entry for “Bancor” puts it this way….

The bancor was a World Currency Unit of clearing that was proposed by John Maynard Keynes, as leader of the British delegation and chairman of the World Bank commission, in the negotiations that established the Bretton Woods system, but has not been implemented.

The IMF report referenced above proposed naming the coming world currency unit the “Bancor” in honor of Keynes.

So what about Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)?  Over the past couple of years, SDRs have been touted as the coming global currency.  Well, the report does envision making SDRs “the principal reserve asset” as we move towards a global currency unit….

“As a complement to a multi-polar system, or even—more ambitiously—its logical end point, a greater role could be considered for the SDR.”

However, the report also acknowledges that SDRs do have some serious limitations.  Since the value of SDRs are closely tied to national currencies, anything affecting those currencies will affect SDRs as well.

Right now, SDRs are made up of a basket of currencies.  The following is a breakdown of the components of an SDR….

*U.S. Dollar (44 percent)

*Euro (34 percent)

*Yen (11 percent)

*Pound (11 percent)

The IMF report recognizes that moving to SDRs is only a partial move away from the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency and urges the adoption of a currency unit that would be truly international.  The truth is that SDRs are clumsy and cumbersome.  For now, SDRs must still be reconverted back into a national currency before they can be used, and that really limits their usefulness according to the report….

“A limitation of the SDR as discussed previously is that it is not a currency. Both the SDR and SDR-denominated instruments need to be converted eventually to a national currency for most payments or interventions in foreign exchange markets, which adds to cumbersome use in transactions. And though an SDR-based system would move away from a dominant national currency, the SDR’s value remains heavily linked to the conditions and performance of the major component countries.”

So what is the answer?

Well, the IMF report believes that the adoption of a true global currency administered by a global central bank is the answer.

The authors of the report believe that it would be ideal if the “Bancor” would immediately be used as currency by many nations throughout the world, but they also acknowledge that a more “realistic” approach would be for the “Bancor” to circulate alongside national currencies at first….

“One option is for bancor to be adopted by fiat as a common currency (like the euro was), an approach that would result immediately in widespread use and eliminate exchange rate volatility among adopters (comparable, for instance, to Cooper 1984, 2006 and the Economist, 1988). A somewhat less ambitious (and more realistic) option would be for bancor to circulate alongside national currencies, though it would need to be adopted by fiat by at least some (not necessarily systemic) countries in order for an exchange market to develop.”

So who would print and administer the “Bancor”?

Well, a global central bank of course.  It would be something like the Federal Reserve, only completely outside the control of any particular national government….

“A global currency, bancor, issued by a global central bank (see Supplement 1, section V) would be designed as a stable store of value that is not tied exclusively to the conditions of any particular economy. As trade and finance continue to grow rapidly and global integration increases, the importance of this broader perspective is expected to continue growing.”

In fact, at one point the IMF report specifically compares the proposed global central bank to the Federal Reserve….

“The global central bank could serve as a lender of last resort, providing needed systemic liquidity in the event of adverse shocks and more automatically than at present. Such liquidity was provided in the most recent crisis mainly by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which however may not always provide such liquidity.”

So is that what we really need? 

A world currency administered by an international central bank modeled after the Federal Reserve?

Not at all.

As I have written about previously, the Federal Reserve has devalued the U.S. dollar by over 95 percent since it was created and the U.S. government has accumulated the largest debt in the history of the world under this system.

So now we want to impose such a system on the entire globe?

The truth is that a global currency (whether it be called the “Bancor” or given a different name entirely) would be a major blow to national sovereignty and would represent a major move towards global government. 

Considering how disastrous the Federal Reserve system and other central banking systems around the world have been, why would anyone suggest that we go to a global central banking system modeled after the Federal Reserve?

Let us hope that the “Bancor” never sees the light of day.

However, the truth is that there are some very powerful interests that are absolutely determined to create a global currency and a global central bank for the global economy that we now live in. 

It would be a major mistake to think that it can’t happen.

Created Out Of Thin Air – That Is Where The Federal Reserve Got The 1.3 Trillion Dollars That It Bought All Of Those Mortgage Backed Securities With

When the mainstream media told the American people that the Federal Reserve was going to “help” the housing industry by buying up hundreds of billions of dollars worth of toxic mortgage backed securities, very few people probably even stopped to wonder where all of that money was going to come from.  Well, the truth is that it did not come from anywhere.  It was made up out of thin air.  In fact, a total of 1.3 trillion dollars was just “printed into existence” so that the Fed could soak up these problematic securities (and help their buddies down on Wall Street in the process who were desperate to dump them).  During a recent Joint Economic Committee hearing on Capital Hill, U.S. Representative Ron Paul directly confronted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about this 1.3 trillion dollars.  As Ron Paul described how this 1.3 trillion was just created out of thin air, all Bernanke could do was nod his head.  Why?  Because it was the truth.

Of course we all know that the Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air all the time, so that is not new, but what is new is the recklessness and openness with which they are going about doing it.

Need to help your buddies down on Wall Street by buying up a tsunami of bad mortgage securities?

Just zap another trillion dollars into existence!

Need to bail out the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Just get the magic money printing machine ready!

Wouldn’t it be nice if the rest of us could create money out of thin air?  It would make life so much easier.

A video clip of the exchange between Ron Paul and Bernanke at this hearing is posted below.

The key moment comes when Ron Paul makes this statement….

“Well, where did you get the money? You created this money. So you did monetize debt, and that went into the banking system.”

As you watch this video, you will notice that at that moment Bernanke nods his head up and down repeatedly….

So who does all of this money printing benefit?

Well, it benefits the Federal Reserve and the big financial institutions on Wall Street that have financial ties to the Federal Reserve.

It certainly does not benefit the rest of us.

No, in fact Bernanke says that the rest of us need to get ready to pay higher taxes and have a lower standard of living in order to pay for the big financial mess that our politicians and the Fed have gotten us into.

So while there are lots of smiles going around in Washington D.C. and on Wall Street these days, the same cannot be said for the rest of the good ole U.S.A. as the following video illustrates….

The reality is that the United States is a nation that does not even have control over its own currency.  If the United States government wants more money, it has to go ask the Federal Reserve to create it.  Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve does not also create the interest that will ultimately be paid on that new money that is being created.  So where will the money come from to pay the interest?  Well, by creating even more money (debt) in the future.  It sounds like insanity, but that is the U.S. financial system.  It is a perpetual debt machine that was created to have an ever expanding national debt that is mathematically impossible to pay off.

Just because the folks down on Wall Street do not dress up in gang colors or try to sell drugs to our children does not mean that they are not corrupt or that they are not criminals.  In fact, the truth is that the corruption in our financial system is hitting unprecedented levels.

But most Americans have no idea what in the world is going on in the financial system.  All most of them know is that things are getting bad and they want somebody to “fix” the problems.

Unfortunately, the folks that the American people are expecting to “fix” things are the very same ones who got us into this mess in the first place.

“Most Americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international money lenders. The accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and manipulates the credit of the United States.”
-Senator Barry Goldwater

“A great industrial nation is controlled by it’s system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the world–no longer a government of free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men.”
-President Woodrow Wilson

“The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson.”
-Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces as public enemies all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe.”
-Abraham Lincoln

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws”
-Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild

Revealed!

The Economic Collapse