Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Kenneth Rogoff - The Dollar's Fragile Hegemony

In this article appearing on Project Syndicate, Kenneth Rogoff (Harvard) revisits a question that has been raised for many years. Will another currency (in this case the Chinese Renminbi) eventually dethrone the US dollar from its role as the major global reserve currency? Professor Rogoff notes that "it seems to be an article of faith among US policymakers and many economists that the world's appetite for dollar debt is virtually insatiable."

In this article, Kenneth Rogoff suggests that China may take some actions that could eventually disrupt the present US dollar based monetary system. Below are some bullet points from the article:

  • the US Dollar currently continues to reign supreme in global markets
  • the dollar's dominance could be more fragile than it appears
  • Chinese authorities could shift to an inflation targeting regime 
  • They may allow the exchange rate against the US dollar to more freely fluctuate
  • The US relies on the "exorbitant privilege" from the dollar to fund massive borrowing
  • Chinese authorities face obstacles to making these changes, but are making gradual changes
  • The US dollar eventually eclipsed the British Pound
  • The Renminbi won't become the global currency overnight
  • It took decades for the Dollar to replace the Pound
  • First we may see three major currencies - Dollar, Euro, Renminbi
  • US public and private borrowing rates would be impacted

My added comments: There is not much new here. Speculation about the dollar being replaced has been going on for a long time. This article talks about how it could happen, but once again describes the process as gradual and perhaps taking decades to unfold. So, no near term horizon major change is predicted in this article. This is in line with what we have reported here now for years. The conditions for potential rapid monetary system change exist all the time if public confidence in the present system wanes for any reason. However, the global monetary authorities and the Federal Reserve in the US have shown no inclination to make any major rapid changes to the present monetary system unless they are forced to do so by events out of their control.

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