Monday, April 6, 2009
The Telegraph's lead financial writer Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that "the world is a step closer to a global currency, backed by a global central bank, running monetary policy for all humanity."
He's referring to the G-20's authorization of $250 billion in IMF Special Drawing Rights:
A single clause in Point 19 of the communiqué issued by the G20 leaders amounts to revolution in the global financial order.
"We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity," it said. SDRs are Special Drawing Rights, a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund that has lain dormant for half a century.
In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global "quantitative easing". In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body.
President Barack Obama [commented] "I think we did OK," he said. Bretton Woods in 1944 was a simpler affair. "Just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy, that's an easy negotiation, but that's not the world we live in."***
The Russians had hoped their idea to develop SDRs as a full reserve currency to challenge the dollar would make its way on to the agenda, but at least they got a foot in the door.
There is now a world currency in waiting. In time, SDRs are likely evolve into a parking place for the foreign holdings of central banks, led by the People's Bank of China. Beijing's moves this week to offer $95bn in yuan currency swaps to developing economies show how fast China aims to break dollar dependence.
Has the SDR already quietly won out against competing world reserve currencies? Evans-Pritchard seems to think so.
If correct, it will take some time to replace the dollar as reserve currency. But it may be starting.