UK Prime Minister David Cameron came out swinging this morning; not only at ISIS but in calling for European leaders to block Russia from the SWIFT banking transaction system. European leaders have already (via unnamed sources) denied any actual new sanctions will take place (though they will be discussing them at the NATO Summit) but - as we have noted previously - this is yet another unintended consequence-driven nail in the coffin of USD hegemony...
According to Russia's RIA Novosti, citing business daily Kommersant, Gazprom Neft has agreed to export 80,000 tons of oil from Novoportovskoye field in the Arctic; it will accept payment in rubles, and will also deliver oil via the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO), accepting payment in Chinese yuan for the transfers. Meaning Russia will export energy to either Europe or China, and receive payment in either Rubles or Yuan, in effect making the two currencies equivalent as far as the Eurasian axis is conerned, but most importantly, transact completely away from the US dollar thus, finally putin'(sic) in action the move for a Petrodollar-free world.
When a tin-foil-hat-wearing blog full of digital dickweeds suggest the dollar's reserve currency status is at best diminishing, it is fobbed off as yet another conspiracy theory (yet to be proved conspiracy fact) too horrible to imagine for the status quo huggers. But when the VP of Research at the New York Fed asks "Could the dollar lose its status as the key international currency for international trade and international financial transactions," and further is unable to say why not, it is perhaps worth considering the principal contributing factors she warns of.
Enter the Golden Dragon ... China is moving closer to positioning itself as the physical gold trading hub of the world and the world’s gold price discovery centre. It is a natural progression for the largest economy in the world and for the world’s largest gold buyer, importer and indeed producer. The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) is launching its yuan denominated international bullion trading exchange next month.
Despite the ongoing mainstream media meme that Russia is becoming 'isolated' from the rest of the world thanks to Western sanctions, it appears they have found a few new 'old' friends to become un-isolated with. On the heels of Russia's food-import-ban sanctions last week, Russian and Chinese officials have announced an agreement that China will start selling fruit and vegetables directly to Russia via a special logistics center in Russia's far east. Notably, this week saw Russia's GDP beat consensus expectations, Ruble rally, and stocks jump as German confidence plunged - can you say blowback?
The last 3 months have seen Russia's "de-dollarization" plans accelerate. First Gazprom clients shift to Euros and Renminbi, then the UK signs currency swap agreements with China, then NATO ally Turkey cuts ties and mulls de-dollarization, Switzerland jumps in the currency swap agreements, and BRICS create their own non-US-based funding vehicle, and then finally this week, Russia's oligarchs have shifted cash holdings to Hong Kong. But this week, as RT reports, Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “"The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China," the Russian regulator said.
A few years ago, the definition of "strong banking" was Switzerland; now, not so much. But eager to restore some of its former banking luster, Switzerland has taken note of this and is rapidly positioning itself to become a major center of European RMB trade. Continuing to believe that the dollar is going to maintain its global reserve status is now not only foolish, but financially hazardous. To countries, businesses and individuals. Those who ignore the trend do so at their own peril.
For seventy years, one of the critical foundations of American power has been the dollar’s standing as the world’s most important currency. For the last forty years, a pillar of dollar primacy has been the greenback’s dominant role in international energy markets. Today, China is leveraging its rise as an economic power - and as the most important incremental market for hydrocarbon exporters in the Persian Gulf and the former Soviet Union - to circumscribe dollar dominance in global energy, with potentially profound ramifications for America’s strategic position.
In recent weeks France has defied US demands not to build Mistrals for Russia, has questioned dollar imperialism and the Petrodollar, and has blasted the US banking regulator's fines as "accelerating the decline of the dollar." So it is likely not a huge surprise that ahead of the G-20 meeting of world leaders later in the year, The FT reports, France has gathered support to challenge US regulators imposing heavy penalties on foreign banks. Berlin, London and Rome have backed Paris in its push to have its concerns about so-called US extraterritoriality discussed when leaders of the world’s top 20 economies meet hoping to bring "more proportionality" to bank fines. With allies like this...
Yesterday saw something quite unusual in the New York trading session. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought $715 million (selling HKD) in the FX markets to manage its currency peg, injecting the money into the banking system (and expanding its balance sheet) to prevent HKD from rising above its permitted range. HKMA projects its balance sheet to grow to the end of July, but as Simon Black (of Sovereign Man blog) notes, this could well be the start of a bigger shift - an end to the US Dollar peg..."The US is no longer the undisputed superpower it once was. The US dollar is dragging them down. Hong Kong is easily strong enough to stand on its own."
The trend of the end of the dollar hegemony continues to slowly creep through the world's financial systems (no matter how many mainstream media 'king dollar' stories we see). The Swiss National Bank and the People’s Bank of China reached a currency swap agreement this week. While this is not a huge trend changer in the near-term, it demonstrates the continued rising roled of China as the largest economy and to be the next financial capital of the world when Europe and the USA blow themselves apart with defaulting socialism.
This week, 70 years after Bretton Woods, leaders from China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa, and several other nations are hard at work in Fortaleza, Brazil creating a new development bank that will compete against the US-controlled World Bank. This is a major step in an obvious trend towards a new financial system. Every shred of objective data is screaming for this to happen. It’s a different world. Everyone realizes it except for the US government, which is still living in the past where they’re #1 and get to call all the shots.
When we broke the story of China's "secret" money laundering into US real estate scheme, we said "So what happens next? Assuming there is the anticipated resulting backlash and crackdown on Chinese banks, which will finally enforce the $50K/year outflow limitation, this could well be the worst possible news not only for Chinese inflation, which suddenly - no longer having a convenient outlet for the unprecedented liquidity formed in the country every month - is set to soar, but also for the ultra-luxury housing in the US. Because without the Chinese bid in a market in which the Chinese are the biggest marginal buyer scooping up real estate across the land, sight unseen, and paid for in laundered cash (which the NAR blissfully does not need to know about due to its AML exemptions), watch as suddenly the 4th dead cat bounce in US housing since the Lehman failure rediscovers just how painful gravity really is." What we forgot to add is that virtually every other financial mainstream outlet would promptly pick up on the story even as the original source back in China took its secrets to the grace. Metaphorically speaking, we hope...
Gold has meaning to China in the same way that gold has meaning (or should have meaning) to Western investors. Not as an inherent store of value or some timeless monetary standard... but as a symbol of failed confidence in Western central bank control over market outcomes. To both investors and China, gold is an insurance policy against Western central bankers losing control of their massive monetary policy experiment. The difference is that China has the power to do something about it.