– More suicide than Murder
The fact that Saudi Arabia is moving away from the dollar as a means of purchasing oil should have everyone in Washington running around with their hair on fire
Drinkin’ rum and Coca-Cola…
Both mother and daughter
Workin’ for the Yankee dollar.
—Andrews Sisters hit song 1944–Rum and Coca-Cola
When the Andrews Sisters recorded this famous song in 1944 the US was on the verge of winning the Second War in league with a host of allies including China, Russia and 24 other nations including Canada. US industry had begun gearing up for war in 1941 and reached a fever pitch by 1944. By then, the US was launching a ship a day. The US began the war with four aircraft carriers and ended it with over 100 (all classes).
The US had an almost limitless capacity to produce wheeled, armored vehicles and aircraft. This output was so prolific that the government began throttling back production as early as 1944, a year before the war ended. They could already foresee dumping millions of rounds of ammunition into the ocean, mothballing whole fleets, storing aircraft in the desert
The following year when the war ended, most of the world’s productive capacity in Asia and Europe had been destroyed. The US emerged unscathed and accounted for almost half the world’s manufacturing output. This apex was transitory as Asia and Europe would inevitably build back their industrial base. The US funded this rebuilding through the Marshall Plan and other financial mechanisms. Much of this money went to rebuilding the economies of former enemies. This was one of the great acts of enlightened self-interest in history.
US led the way in restoring a stable monetary system
With the world struggling to recover from the most destructive war ever, the US led the way in restoring a stable monetary system. At Bretton Woods in 1944, the US convened a conference where the future stability of the global monetary system was laid out, based on US dollars as the world’s reserve currency. Bretton Woods established the institutions that governed the world financial system for the next 75 years, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This dollar-denominated global monetary system underpinned the Pax Americana which endured well into the 21st century.
Today the end of US dominance in the global monetary system is on the horizon and this will have profound implications for business and personal finances. No one will be untouched. The dethroning of the dollar after 75 years of primacy will not happen overnight but it will happen. The arrival of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, South Africa, India and China), soon to be joined by 40 other countries, will change our world. The new BRICS currency, backed by gold and commodities including oil, will be attractive. If they can pull it off, this will emerge as a powerful reserve currency with its own exchange mechanism.
The end of Bretton Woods and the US dollar as the world’s prime reserve currency
This will mark the end of Bretton Woods and the US dollar as the world’s prime reserve currency. As the US dollar becomes less needed to lubricate trade and international settlements, excess dollars will come flooding back to the US creating inflation. US assets will become targets for takeover and America’s capacity to run deficits will shrink.
How and why did it happen?
There are iron rules associated with being the world’s reserve currency. These include not overspending, protecting the inherent value of the currency, and not politicizing the mechanisms underpinning the global financial system.
Protected by its Reserve Currency status and outright hubris, the US broke all these rules, especially in the last 20 years.
US deficits are out of control and this will lead to a terrible day of reckoning. These bills must ultimately be paid. Runaway deficits depreciate currency, putting at risk everyone holding US dollars, including the American People. Over-spending by government fuels inflation, always and everywhere, and this is what we are experiencing now. Each day the buying power of the dollar shrinks. Sooner or later, foreigners will look to hedge against this depreciation and that means dumping dollars for other currencies or commodities.
The US has also broken the third rule of a reserve currency “don’t politicize your monetary system”
Part of the US deficit problem is that America funded the defense of North America, Europe, much of the Middle East, and parts of Asia. Many of these protected allies are rich and yet remain unwilling to fund their own defense and this includes Canada. Meanwhile, the US taxpayer is picking up the bill, which means less capital available for infrastructure, education, productivity-boosting technology and investment.
The US has also broken the third rule of a reserve currency “don’t politicize your monetary system” and here considerable damage has been done. In recent years, the US has abused its reserve currency status time and again to impose political consequences on enemies and friends alike. Every time a nation is subject to sanctions or denied access to the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) such as Russia recently, this means they cannot employ their dollars to do business. If they cannot use their dollars, then why hold them?
US smashed the centuries old ultra confidential Swiss banking system and did so with utter indifference to the collateral damage
It is not only Russia that has been bullied by US monetary authorities. Allies have also felt also felt the sting of the lash. The Swiss banking system, quiet, confidential and secure for two hundred years, came under US assault. To expose US tax cheats, the US smashed the centuries old ultra confidential Swiss banking system and did so with utter indifference to the collateral damage. These same tactics and threats have been applied to many allies over the years and they are fed up. You cannot open and close access to the global monetary system on a whim and expect people to trust it.
No wonder so many nations are looking for an alternative in BRICS. Saudi Arabia has long been a bulwark for the US dollar as the only means of buying Saudi oil. This provided a powerful wall in defense of the US dollar as a reserve currency. The fact that Saudi Arabia is moving away from the dollar as a means of purchasing oil should have everyone in Washington running around with their hair on fire. That everyone seems to be treating this with a yawn is astonishing. Maybe Euripides was right when he wrote “whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.”
Originally from Montreal, Canada, Barry Sheehy holds degrees from Loyola (Concordia) and McGill Universities, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces Decoration. Mr. Sheehy’s lifelong passion for history has continued since his early years as an officer in the Canadian Armed forces. After leaving the military, he entered the entrepreneurial world of business consulting where he acquired clients from New York to London and as far away as Dubai and Hong Kong. Barry is the author or contributing author of several books and over fifty published papers and articles. Barry’s ongoing interest in history eventually focused his attention America’s most complete, surviving, antebellum Southern city, Savannah, Georgia. He was particularly interested in the city’s wartime experience. After many years of exhaustive research, Sheehy began the task of final development, aided by an all-volunteer team of skilled professionals in 2005. With rigorous cross checking from both previously published works and newly discovered original materials, Sheehy has written the most extensive historical study of Civil War Savannah ever undertaken, including “Savannah: Immortal City” and “Savannah: Brokers, Bankers, and Bay Lane.” His latest book “Montreal, City of Secrets” appeared in September 2017.