Guest Post: China Defaults, Currency Basket Threatens Dollar

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Janet Tavakoli of Tavakoli Structured Finance

Robert Fisk exposed revived discussions by the Gulf States, China, France, Japan, Brazil, and Russia to replace the dollar as the benchmark oil trading currency with a basket of currencies including gold within 10 years.  This proposal is not new and discussions have been ongoing for decades.  But other extraordinary moves in the capital markets suggest we should take this threat to the dollar’s position very seriously.  For example, China has $2.3 trillion in currency reserves (about 70% in dollars), and China knows how to get its way.

In November 2008, Chinese banks said they would no longer play by our rules.  Top tier banks (Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China) reneged on derivatives contracts.  They failed to come up with billions in collateral on dollar/yen FX trades, which were out of the money after the yen’s October appreciation.  This should have been headline news in every financial newspaper, but it wasn’t.

Chinese banks defaulted.  They may have been partially motivated by U.S. malfeasance in the capital markets that caused losses in Asia.  The U.S. squandered its credibility and our cover-ups have done nothing to restore it.

Most credit support annex agreements would say that closing out these trades would be an event of default, and then the cross default on all the trades would kick in with the same counterparty. But the credit of the Chinese banks was better than many of their counterparties.  Everyone was forced to renegotiate contracts with the Chinese banks.
From the perspective of the derivatives markets, this is earth shattering.  What would have happened if AIG had done the same thing?  (Hey, Goldman, UBS, and others…you want your collateral?  Well…Stuff It!)

At the end of August 2009, China signaled that state owned oil consumers: Air China, COSCO, and China Eastern could default on money-losing commodities derivatives contracts.

If we had been paying attention, the U.S. should have done everything in its power to correct our mistakes, clean up the mess in our financial system—instead of sweeping it under the carpet—and turned our efforts to maintaining the credibility of the capital markets and the credibility of the dollar.

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bruce wayne's picture

"Speak softly and carry a big stick."

I wonder if China's rather noisy power proclamations are not meant to hide true weakness.

Anonymous's picture

without a doubt

chumbawamba's picture


I am Chumbawamba.

Miles Kendig's picture

Catch my classical reference last night?

I am J.A.F.O.

chumbawamba's picture

I think so.  What thread?

I am Chumbawamba.

Miles Kendig's picture


The Twiztid ref...  I'll look if ya need it.

Gilgamesh's picture

Everyone out of the (dark) pool!  <Insert pic of Snickers Bar> 


I think some big name was out talking that a second round of bank deteriorations could be upcoming. 

Anonymous's picture

don't you mean Baby Ruth?

ghostfaceinvestah's picture

More financial wars, they will be opening up on many fronts.  There is not enough wealth to go around.

Pilatus's picture

No surprise there, in the early 90's, a suger broker I was doing business with went belly up because China reneged on derivatives contracts

blindfaith's picture

Folks don't get that you play by Chinese rules or you don't play.  They regneg on you that is OK, you regen on them and you never do business in China again.

Lets buy more stock in "American" companies located in Chinaso they can continue to build up China at the cost of a few American jobs...I mean that is just as American as it is Chinese these days.  One day the Chinese will take over everyone of them and dare you investors to try and collect.

buzzsaw99's picture

Yeah, but old Bennie made good on those agency bonds. Genius stuff!

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

I'd love to see a chart of the DOW or the SP500 in Euros from about 1999-present.

I'll have to see what I can do if I can't find it online.

omi's picture

stockcharts  $SPX:$XEU$SPX:$XEU&p=D&b=5&g=0&i=t28088541571&r=6043

You Cant Handle the Truth's picture

Thank you!  Much appreciated.

exportbank's picture

There was a time when the USD was backed by the full faith and credit of the American thinker, inventor and good old hard worker. You could "bank" on that.

Now it's backed by a printing press and a bunch of Wall Street gamblers.

Sounds like a win-win formula for the future. I'm not saying there aren't a slew of countries in the same boat - but I grew up with the US as the invincible King of everything.

SWRichmond's picture

There was a time when the USD was backed by the full faith and credit of the American thinker, inventor and good old hard worker. You could "bank" on that.

Yes, and this is the saddest thing of all, and it is what I want to restore.  America shone in large part because it let the genie of human ingenuity out of the bottle.  The damned control freak statists have been working ever since to put it back in.  We are more than we have become.

mkkby's picture

Ah, for the good old days. NOT! It was just as corrupt then as it is now. Human behavior is the only constant.

SWRichmond's picture

But the opportunity to succeed unencumbered still existed; the size and influence of government has continued to grow over the years, and now everything that anyone wants to do is either illegal or is regulated.  Human behaviour IS constant, and with larger government we get larger influence due to government corruption backed by the force of law.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah, the opportunity to succeed unencumbered by masked mobs dragging the maleficent bankers out into the street and hanging them outright has been negated by government regulation, lying, respect for the force of law, and the willing embrace of ignorance and helplessness of the population at large.

If Obama actually declared a bank lynching holiday, how many citizens would actually be out there putting a gut wrenching fear in the guilty who strut about confident in their belief of a perfect protection bought and sealed? Well, not enough, because the citizenry appear willfully ignorant gutless and unmotivated as the elected.

bugs_'s picture

What a shock.  If it is OK to default in a workers'

paradise it should be OK to default anywhere.

chumbawamba's picture

Yep, like with your credit cards.


I am Chumbawamba.

Anonymous's picture

I have a medium-term strategy. I currently never carry a credit card balance, I pay my bills from a debit account. Since I will be able to cover my monthly bills I am considering paying all my bills with credit cards. My thought is that I can rack up ~$1,000/ month (mortgage not included) in credit card bills which must be backed $1 for $1 by the credit card company since my card is unsecured credit. One little person can freeze $1,000 of TBTF Bank capital at no cost to his/her self as long as the balance is paid!

chumbawamba's picture

Better yet, buy gold and silver with your credit cards.  Then wait until the system defaults.

I am Chumbawamba.

waterdog's picture

There is a reason it is called a basket of currencies. It is actually a hand basket of currencies. The fastest way to hell is in a hand basket.

Creating a currency mix to be used to purchase oil, proves that very few countries understand the problems for oil beginning in late 2011.

Some of the countries in this proposed basket will become victims of oil by 2016.

Anonymous's picture

so true....

chumbawamba's picture

Janet's great but she apparently hasn't been paying attention. China had 2.3T in US dollar reserves but they've been spending them like Paris Hilton on a weekday over the past year.  Just the other day they announced close to $10B in energy and resource deals in different parts of the world (S.A., Africa).

I will not be surprised if at the end of the year China announces it holds less than $100B in US debt.  That's when TSHTF.

I am Chumbawamba.

Anonymous's picture

china has been converting its moldy cheese into can't get rid of dollars fast enough...

the creditor makes the rules...something the
tick turds in washington and in flyover country
never takes a village to be an

Anonymous's picture

True, but consider in proportion what $10 billion means when you have to spend $2.3 trillion before it goes bad. It's like I have $10 to spend. I find something I like, then all the locals give me a complete raft of shit because I'm spending $10 that the locals don't have. Not like they don't like money, but they really don't want to surrender their stuff to "ferners". Mind you, I have relatively $2300 in total to spend. Can you appreciate what a pain in the ass it will be to spend that kind of money when every $10 is a pain in the ass inquisition from the riled up locals?

If the Chinese want open arms deals, please have them come to Calif and mop up all this excess real estate.

chumbawamba's picture

WTF?  What are you talking about?  The Chinese have been buying up shit all over the globe for the past year plus.  It gets reported all the time in the financial press.  Chances are good you'll read about another such acquistion in tomorrow's news.

I am Chumbawamba.

Anonymous's picture

it was wonderful having words by royalty...janet is on my short short lists of must reads....

i agree with the assessment that china is no angel and we should stop denigrating ourselves on the notion that it is virtuous and we are not....

however, the usa, if it is indeed a leader and not a geopunk, must acknowledge its own sins and sin no more....

unfortunately the fire economy owns policy and is not inclined to rehab - the self righteous don't need rehab...and crooks don't have time for it....

Anonymous's picture

Well, if many within the business and political cadre conclude that expanding commercial integration with a totalitarian state is a swell idea (largely because labor costs are low and nicely controlled), I don't have much sympathy to offer when the fecal matter hits the fan blades.

Leadership. Morals. Mandarins are laughing.

Anonymous's picture

FYI: China is not a "totalitarian" state. It is a one-party dictatorship politically which is partially centrally-planned economically. "Totalitarian" (e.g., Hitlerian Germany, Stalinist Russia and Maoist China) refers to a socio-political system in which virtually all (hence "total...") aspects of public and private life are programmed, monitored, and controlled, with secret police widely distributed to remove and severely punish all nonconformists and individualists. In a "we are the good guys and they are the bad guys" state of mind one can get confused about the differences between socialism and communism, capitalism and fascism, dictatorship and totalitarianism, but it would be helpful to study these differences before using such terms.

Anonymous's picture

"A one-party dictatorship politically which is partially centrally-planned economically."

So, pretty much like America.

Anonymous's picture

Yeah . . . so based upon your description, China is a totalitarian state. Thanks for the collegiate-level perspective you've brought to the table, though.

Anonymous's picture

China is just a weird sort of Neo-Fascist state, the kind of state the Federal government wants impose here.

Anonymous's picture

"America is not fascist nor totalitarian, its a democracy, or so most americans think (at least those who still have a brain). But what good is a democracy in name when it is ruled by small group of bankersholding a puppet string leashed to almost all of its politicians, intellectuals and policy makers? And when the typical american journalist doesn't understand or is too lazy to understand sixth grade math to know they are being lied to by the government? And less than 50% of them turn out to vote every 4 years? And many still thinks their President is an Arab?

The American people is being walked day by day closer into an abyss, the abyss of hyperinflation, of wars started and to be started to bring at the good ol american patriotism to the forefrnt to forget the mountains of debt their children would have to repay somehow. The end is near, I can read and see it in the comments of many of you still in denial.

Anonymous's picture

china is a totalitarian state and meets the
definition you try acting outside
of prescribed norms and see how fast you find a
secret police agent with a rifle up your butt....

and the usa and china are converging so quickly that
the spread between one form of totalitarianism
and the other differs only of degree rather than
of kind...don't want to take a vaccination in the
usa? you will find yourself in a concentration camp faster
than you can saying burning jew....

the state lock on religion, massacres in public,
and other barbaric behavior is abhorent and the
act of a brutal regime which will do anything to
maintain the position of the one party....

Anonymous's picture

The Chinese are Alpha males and us Americans unreliable Beta's. We're too scared to take on the TBTF banks. The Chinese aren't scared of shit.

Go China!

svendthrift's picture

edit: #90403 Was me.. Forgot to sign in.



Miles Kendig's picture

Good questions to which inquiring minds would like to know some believable answers.

BTW, anyone here know if Janet likes Mozart?

DBLTapViper's picture

Hey Tyler,  more Janet! 

Anonymous's picture

The US has a "strong dollar policy", well it has had an amazing effect on the Nikkei... fallen 1000 points thanks to the strong yen, meanwhile in the land of bits and bytes all goes along at the speed of light gunning more poor shorts who ventured in for a split second and got their heads blown off

Careless Whisper's picture

China is not going to take a dirty sanchez from Wall Street.

Marge N Call's picture

Maybe a Tony Danza, but not a dirty Sanchez.

George Washington's picture

Ms. Tavakoli rocks.


Anonymous's picture

What does this mean? Is there a layperson's version of this?

Anyone have any suggestions on what I have to read/study to understand half the things said/written on the site? It's pretty interesting stuff, but completely (for now) going over my head.

Anonymous's picture

Newbies to ZH don't get their questions answered by posting in the comments section. Using google/wikipedia works to define some terms. Also the Financial Times site has a lexicon that'll define some of the terms. Most importantly, *keep reading*--it will start to make sense from the context of various posts and comments, trust me. Don't get discouraged! Took me about a three weeks until I started to make sense of what I was reading here.

Well worth the time and effort.

Rula (not logged in; @work)