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Triffin's Dilemma: The 2014 Edition

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Shane Obata-Marusic of Triggers (pdf)

Triffin's Dilemma: The 2014 Edition

What does it mean to be the world’s reserve currency?

Everbank’s Chuck Butler sums it up nicely in the following quote:

“Remember, the country with the reserve currency gets to receive loans at discounted borrowing costs. Also, commodities are priced in the reserve currency, meaning central banks around the world must hold the currency in their reserves to facilitate trade.”


“Trading nations need dollars to lubricate trading and as foreign exchange reserves that bolster the value of their own currency and provide the asset base for the expansion of credit within their own nation”

Many different currencies have held reserve status throughout history.

This is important to note because it goes to show that, just like everything else, reserve currency status doesn’t last forever.


At present, the US dollar is the world’s main reserve currency.


That status has been a gift for the US: it has allowed it to run a deficit in perpetuity.


But it has also been a curse:

“The demand for safe assets feeds tha t exorbitant privilege enjoyed by the United States. This contributes to a weakening of US policy discipline as the country tends to excessively rely on easy credit in normal times and very expansionary macroeconomic policies in times of crisis. The outcome is excessive US indebtedness. The corporate sector was in debt prior to the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2001; so were the household and financial sectors before the eruption of the sub-prime crisis in 2007-08; and the official sector is in debt today.”

Moving on.

Let’s assume for a moment that the US recovers, the dollar appreciates in value relative to other currencies, the trade deficit shrinks, and QE comes to end.


That all sounds good, right? Yes, but maybe not for other countries – specifically those with current account deficits.

The end of easy money and artificially low interest rates will not bode well for the emerging markets.

The “faulty five” – aka the “BI ITS” – Brazil, India, Indonesia, Turkey and South Africa are particularly vulnerable because they rely on external financing to operate.

A stronger USD has multiple negative implications for their economies.

Before we continue let’s introduce the idea of Triffin’s Dilemma.


And now for a bit of history:

“Prior to the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement, central banks used gold as the asset to back their currencies. By the end of World War I I , the United States had established itself as the world’s creditor and largest holders of gold. Under the 1 944 Bretton Woods agreement, the US Dollar was fully backed by gold at a fixed value of 1 /35th an ounce per dollar, and foreign Central Banks could use US Dollar assets as reserves backing their currency, in lieu of gold. This agreement avoided the inevitable deflationary pressure a return to pre-war gold/currency ratios would have forced just as Europe was beginning to rebuild, and allowed US debt held abroad to be used as an asset by central banks against their local currencies. (- Zero Hedge)

After WW I I , America was the only industrialized country still intact. Through the Marshall Plan and rebuilding Japan and later South Korea, America was lending huge amounts of dollars to other countries, which in turn were used to collateralize their own currencies. America was able to run huge trade surpluses and our economy was booming. But, then Triffin’s Dilemma came into play. The demand for dollars around the world exceeded America’s ability to back it with gold. Those sneaky folks at the Federal Reserve printed more dollars anyway. And, when other countries figured out what was happening there was a run on America’s gold reserves and so President Richard Nixon had no choice but to stop backing the dollar with gold. However, the dollar remained the world’s reserve currency because of the size and strength of the  US economy. ” (Source)

Despite the fact the US dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, “The IMS [international monetary system] is not in a better situation today. The quandary under the BW system – the lack of a credible anchor for international monetary and financial stability – continues to exist. Key issuers and holders of reserve currencies pursue domestic objectives independently of what would best serve the global system and even their longer-run interest. To the extent that these policies pay insufficient attention to negative externalities for other countries and longer-term macroeconomic and financial stability concerns, they tend to produce unsustainable imbalances and fuel vulnerability in the global financial system. In particular, a large body of literature supports the view that a worldwide glut of both liquidity and planned savings over investment – stemming from, respectively, reserve-issuing and reserve- accumulating economies – was a key driver of the hazardous environment at the root of the global financial and economic crisis which broke out in summer 2007” (Source)

Will Triffin’s dilemma be relevant again in 2014 and going forward? Many people believe that it will.

The US is now producing a lot more energy and importing a lot less - on a net basis.


This is causing their trade deficit – which has been negative for the better part of 50 years – to shrink.


If we think of the trade balance as part of the supply of US dollars then – as a result of the dollar’s world reserve currency status – a reduction in the trade deficit means fewer US dollars leaving the country.

This has implications for other countries because they use USDs to buy US assets and for reserves.

Triffin’s Dilemma is that the country that issues the world’s reserve currency will have to choose between:

1 ) running a trade deficit in perpetuity - risking of a loss of confidence in its currency and solvency while the rest of the world enjoys an adequate supply of USDs.


2) running a trade surplus and enjoying an appreciation in the value of the dollar while the rest of the world suffers from a lack of liquidity and collateral.

Either way, there are negative implications for world growth. In the first example – in which the US runs a trade deficit in perpetuity – the US continues to add to its debt and risks undermining its ability to pay off that debt. In the second example – in which the US runs a trade surplus – emerging market currencies are put under pressure by the USD potentially leading to capital outflows, a higher cost of debt, and global financial instability.

When Bernanke first mentioned the possibility of a reduction in asset purchases in May of 2013, emerging market currencies – in particular the BIITS – sold off in a big way.

At the same time, GDP forecasts for the emerging markets (started to get) (were) revised downwards.

That was the tell.

What I mean is that that’s when we first got a glimpse of what would happen if and when this giant monetary experiment came to an end.

In other words, the end of easy money isn’t going to be easy.

If emerging market currencies continue to depreciate then the relative value of the cash flows of companies that operate within those countries will fall.

In that case, it’s likely that net capital outflows from those markets would continue.


This flight of capital could force emerging market countries to increase their interest rates in an attempt to remain competitive for acquiring external financing.

With more money going towards interest payments, growth will be limited even further. What’s more is that an increase in the relative value of the USD will cause the price of imports, financial assets, and external debt to rise in local currency terms.

Lastly, and arguably most importantly, a smaller trade deficit or trade surplus will result in a reduction in foreign exchange reserves held at emerging market central banks.


As those banks use their dollar reserves to buy back their domestic currencies in an effort to curb inflation they will 1 ) reduce their ability to “protect” their currency in the future and 2) reduce the asset base against which bank reserves are backed.

In conclusion, the falling trade deficit in the US is likely to increase the relative value of the dollar.

If, in addition to an improving balance of trade, the fed continues to taper its asset purchases, then it’s likely that emerging market currencies and ETFs will face increasingly negative pressures.



Basically, there is no easy way out of this giant moral hazard driven debt bubble that the world’s central banks, and in particular the fed, have created.

I am hoping for the best but I’m not sure how this will play out. The entire world is in way over its head in debt...


And somehow, whether it’s deliberate or forced, we need to get rid of it all.


What used to be known as the business cycle – i.e. a cycle wherein a period of expansion is followed by a recession which cleanses the system of malinvestment – doesn’t exist anymore. Currently, the entire economic system is centrally planned. Instead of letting the nature run its course, the world’s “best and brightest” minds in economics – the central bankers – have decided to try and outsmart it. I f the US continues to operate without regard to the effects on the rest of the world, then world growth will be negatively affected.

Triffin’s dilemma: the 201 4 edition might turn out to be a prime example of the negative consequences of keeping money too easy for too long – i.e. suppressing interest rates and monetizing deficits. Unfortunately, policies that were intended to “smooth out” the economic cycle have only resulted in bigger booms and busts.


Someone’s going to be left holding the bag. Try not to let it be you.


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Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:14 | 4406373 Renfield
Renfield's picture

Shane and Tylers, this is one for my personal archives. Thank you for a solid lesson in money, as a change from so many daily noise graphs.

Don't get me wrong, I love ZH's regular stream of graphs, but this article is refreshingly educational. Now more than ever, learning about what money fundamentally is, and how it works, is becoming a survival skill.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:25 | 4406415 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

FOFOA discusses Triffin's Dilemma at length, but you'll have to look for it...

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:24 | 4406572 akak
akak's picture

With all due respect, DoChen, I don't think that FOFOA knows how to discuss ANYTHING except at length.


Wed, 02/05/2014 - 23:15 | 4406730 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

LOL, indeed!

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:33 | 4407173 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Or neither could happen and the world will end right on schedule.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 02:05 | 4407002 Poor Grogman
Poor Grogman's picture

FOFOA is full of shit.

He try's unconvincingly to make the argument for some bastardised hybrid monetary system called free gold that would be complete shit.

Under FOFOAs warm sophist arguments for his stupid "free gold" system, The all powerful government of the day would whistle off into the sunset hand in hand with the money changers.

The money changers retain the power to create and lend fiat currency out of thin air, (at interest). Nice one FOFOA!

Meanwhile as a little thank you, with a nudge and a wink the Government would make gold loans illegal (yes illegal). Thus imprisoning and immobilizing gold.

That is FOFOAs free-gold which should instead be called (FEE gold.)

Your welcome here anytime for a debate FOFOA, you dishonest banker shill.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 09:28 | 4407399 F22
F22's picture

Your statement betrays a profound ignorance of Freegold.  Perhaps you should RTFB...

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 14:00 | 4408279 Poor Grogman
Poor Grogman's picture

Which one of my two statements is incorrect?

Get your rose coloured glasses off and actually analyse what FOFOA has to say!

He's even stupid enough to set an actual figure (55000) for the coming revaluation USD$ price!

Free gold only differs from what we have now in that it assumes ( as everyone else does ) that manipulation eventually fails and the gold USD price resets much higher. This is a no brainer.

What FOFOA brings to the table is some reasonable analysis of historical events, but he then uses guile and sophistry to convince the reader of free gold which is just another fiat money system, similar to the present one albeit with a higher gold price.

FOFOA is preparing the faithful goldbugs for the future physical price reset and bifurcation of the futures market. While imploring them not to think of gold as money itself. But rather retain the € as their unit of account.

Thus allowing the fiat system to remain intact after the gold reset! ( very clever FOFOA)!

Because of his verbose style it takes some while to put the pieces together, don't worry if you don't see it immediately.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:19 | 4406376 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Emerging markets are fools not to move to crypto-currencies at this point.

Sooner or later they will understand.

BTW: Bitcoin Last:$836.00000

BitDust. Someone alert Fonestar.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 07:22 | 4407211 fredquimby
fredquimby's picture

Forget the emerging markets, its Iceland you want to watch!

This is going to be epic......


A nation breaks the shackles of a fiat currency

Icelanders will be awarded f 31.8 each from March 25th 2014

Five years ago, the government of Iceland imposed capital controls, following the collapse of a Ponzi inspired financial system that had issued far more Icelandic kronas than the nation could ever back up through its real economy. These controls were supposed to be “temporary”, but as with so many government actions, they remain in place to this day.

This means that the people of Iceland have, for the past five years, been forced to turn over all foreign currency earned to the Central Bank of Iceland. This means that the people are not entirely free to engage in international trade. They are not free to invest in businesses abroad. The arbitrary use of power this entails and the unsustainable debt of the Icelandic government has created uncertainty and risk in all aspects of commerce. This has had a crippling effect on foreign investment, as foreigners in general avoid investing in Icelandic enterprises, because of the risk of not being able to convert their investment back into dollars or euros.

This means lack of investment and stifled economic growth in Iceland. The Central Bank finances consumption imports with the currencies it confiscates from export companies, in addition to expensive FX loans from the IMF, private bondholders and other countries.

This means that the Icelandic economy is slowly bleeding. The people of Iceland are being sacrificed at the altar of a flawed financial system, controlled by an elite that made astronomical bets supported by the government on behalf of the people and ultimately at the expense of the people......

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:15 | 4406381 Robot Traders Mom
Robot Traders Mom's picture

The military industrial complex is synonymous with 'reserve currency'.


That can never, and will never, be given up without a fight. 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:40 | 4406984 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture




Zionist Toilet Paper


It's all the same thing, backed by murder, and if you don't believe me, RM has a joint to sell you.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 04:39 | 4407128 kurt
kurt's picture

Let's play Trolling for Jew Haters!

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 05:54 | 4407152 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

 Zionism is NOT Jewish

I have a lot of Jewish friends and they all hate Zionism as much as I do.

Zionism is NOT Judaism.

Zionism is Nazism.

I always say

The CIA ain't christian

The MOSSAD ain't Jewish


Zionism is about Kleptocracy, the strong stealing from the weak.

I never use the word 'jew', take your anti-semitism elsewhere.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:42 | 4406985 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture


That can never, and will never, be given up without a fight.


That's right the Zionists have cleverly created a system where the MIC will kill ameriKKKan citizens to protect their own retirement fund of petro-dollars ( reserve currency ).

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:47 | 4406405 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

I never understood this argument.  Money supply is quite independent of trade flows and always has been.  If any entity, foreign or domestic wants dollars, they are easily borrowed.

Also, as recent Fed operations show, foreign versus domestic banks is a distinction without a difference.

The whole thing seems to be a confusion of collateral and credit worthiness with simply having a few green backs stashed some place.  Bankers used to earn their salaries by making exactly that sort of distinction.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:06 | 4406948 FreedomGuy
FreedomGuy's picture

I was thinking along similar lines. Triffin's dilemma is essentially dollar-centric and sort of assumes no other country has collateral of it's own or is willing to trade in other currencies.

For example, any other country could limit it's supply of currency or back their currency with gold or other commodities independently of the U.S. I think China may even be working to this end.

One of the advantages of an international gold standard is that it allows equal standing in currencies and allows you trade or convert currencies avoiding short term shortfalls of any one currency. It also allows a more precise comparative valuing of products and especially labor across the world. You will see what one ounce of gold buys anywhere in the world.

I do not think gold solves all currency and monetary problems but it does solve a whole lot of them.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 02:00 | 4407001 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

On many occasions since WWII the middle east has SAID "We don't want to NO FUCKING USD $$$ for our OIL, we want GOLD"

In every case that country was wasted and its children murdered, and a new dictator put into power and the new dictator always takes USD $$$.


Most of what we have here is SMOKE&MIRROR's, and graphs, .. and bullshit.

The USD is backed by MURDER, Inc. 100% and nothing else, all the narrative and graphs is stuff for college students.


Triffen's Dilemma is that if country's fight to become Reserve Currency for 'POWER', but they end up becoming powerless, its a paradox of power.

Look at the USD since 1910 when PTB decided to 'rule the world', the USD lost 99% of its value, its a dilemma, on the other hand those in POWER print for free. But for those of us who work for those USD we get fucked.

The dilemma is that which is good for the PTB is not good for the Proles, and eventually this disparity of interest will catch up with the PTB and destroy them.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:34 | 4407174 negative rates
negative rates's picture

See my comment above.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:28 | 4406412 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

The U.S. with a trade surplus?  We'd have to bring back Disco and 1975.

We may as well wish for affordable healthcare and the return of the rule-of-law.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:35 | 4407175 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Well at least the return of something.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 11:01 | 4407652 Offthebeach
Offthebeach's picture

The law will come back. Delivered right to your house in MRAPs, Kevlar vested ( sans Velcro name tags ), MP-5 and flash banged.

Don't bother getting out of bed to answer the door. They'll let themselves in.

Don't bother reaching for the gun. If you don't have a gun, one will be provided for you.


Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:28 | 4406417 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

Tribbles' Dilemma

I have seen that before. 

Doctor Leonard McCoy (DeForest Kelley) is concerned that the increasing numbers of tribbles threaten to consume all the onboard supplies. It is discovered that they are entering ship systems, interfering with their functions and consuming any edible contents present. Kirk realizes that if the tribbles are getting into the ship's stores, then they are a threat to the grain aboard the station. He examines the holds but learns that it is already too late: The tribbles have indeed eaten the quadrotriticale, and Kirk is literally buried in grain-gorged tribbles when he opens a grain hold with an overhead hatch. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and McCoy discover that about half the tribbles in the hold are dead and many of the rest are dying, alerting them that the grain has been poisoned.

Replace tribble with the USD and the crew as members of the USS Federal Reserve. 

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:29 | 4406428 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

I just know Monsanto is developing Roundup resistant Quadrotriticale; patented for a millennium of course.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:32 | 4406433 Grande Tetons
Grande Tetons's picture

Now that is fucking funny. LOL! 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 02:18 | 4407014 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

I think your confused with the Kibble's dilemma, every where 'cats' aka felines are terrified of the kibbles dilemma.


Triffen Paradox

The dilemma of choosing between these objectives was first identified in the 1960s by Belgian-American economist Robert Triffin. He pointed out that the country whose currency, being the global reserve currency, foreign nations wish to hold, must be willing to supply the world with an extra supply of its currency to fulfill world demand for these foreign exchange reserves, and thus cause a trade deficit.

People's Bank of China explicitly named the Triffin Dilemma as the root cause of the economic disorder, in a speech titled Reform the International Monetary System. Zhou Xiaochuan's speech of 29 March 2009 proposed strengthening existing global currency controls, through the IMF.

This would involve a gradual move away from the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency and towards the use of IMF special drawing rights (SDRs) as a global reserve currency.


In summary if your CHINA sitting on trillions of SOON to be worthless USD's, .. you want to expedite to the IMF-SDR ASAP.

Thank YOU AIPAC for destroying the USA, and bringing CHINA to your CONCLUSION.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:33 | 4406426 akak
akak's picture

I can't help but notice that there was no such thing as "Triffin's Dilemma" until the age of (irredeemable) fiat currency.  But please tell me again, all you status-quo apologists (James_Cole and Chindit13, I am looking at you), how the universal fiat currency regime is so "progressive" and "advanced" and "beneficial".

I think your fiat 'cure' is far worse than the putative hard-money 'disease'.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:40 | 4406629 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Brother, may I call you brother(?) akak?  You may beat me roundly 'bout the head and shoulders for this, but I'm half-vast in the bag, and half-vast in the mood to vent.

I am tired.  In body, mind and soul, I am exhausted.  You see, I have long believed that fiat currency, in and of itself, is not inherently evil.  Let me explain;

It seems to me that currency should not be based on the things we can dig out of the ground.  Eventually, we will have ravaged the only home we can ever know.  Is this really a good idea?  So then, you may ask, what should currency derive its value from?  This is gonna sound fucked up, I know, but the only thing that gives any currency value is the human critters who use it.

That said, we should draw an arbitrary line, right now, today, of the amount of currency in circulation, per head, of every inhabitant, of every nation, and establish a benchmark.  Thereafter, each national currency outstanding will rise and fall according to population- there's never more, or less opportunity for individuals to accumulate currency, ever.

Also, since the 17 or so trillion dollars of (utterly unpayable) US debt is counted as assets by the banksters and their blissfully ignorant customers, the unavoidable default will force them, all of them, to face reality.

By the time they figure out their balance sheet wealth is actually based on their own promises to pay, it will be too late.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:12 | 4406958 FreedomGuy
FreedomGuy's picture

Your idea has validity but it will result in deflation...true deflation in that the value of the currency will increase over time and the same amount of currency will chase ever increasing amounts of labor and products. There is actually nothing wrong with deflation except that systems worldwide are built with an expectation of inflation.

For example, if the USA only had the amount of currency available at the Revolution you could probably buy a car for about ten cents. Nothing wrong with this, actually. It makes saving very valuable which is arguably very good.

In all probability you would have to do the equivalent of stock splits when a currency gets too valuable. There are no losers when you do that. It just allows subdivision of the currency. There used to be a halfpenny because a penny bought too much, at times.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:27 | 4406967 TheGoldMyth
TheGoldMyth's picture

I am not a gold bug, but thought this might be inportant hot of the press info for those with interest in gold, for whatever reason. I found it interesting  due to the maturity of the expert comentary.
p, li { white-space: pre-wrap; }

"Karen Hudes RED ALERT For Collapse of Fiat Currency"

February 5th, 2014 " target="_blank">


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 11:34 | 4407755 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Don't know that deflation is built in.  The currency would remain elastic.  The amount in circulation would be regulated by human potential.  Might go up, might go down.

The folks at the top of the monetary food chain are quite happy with the status-quo.  Others are stacking PM's in anticipation of the collapse of the status-quo.  IMHO, neither approach is viable.  Unfortunately, neither is the present course.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 23:52 | 4406797 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Akak, it seems to me the problem for us is that we have lived in a world of balanced equations, good accounting practices and sound money tied to a scarce item, therefore indexed to value. In this world, one cannot bag a 10X overnight by clever trades or manipulation. Our world isn't very exciting and wealth accumulation is an exacting practice based on long hard work. Not very sexy I must say. Once money is easily made in the speculative realm it is very hard to go back to the sober way. Therefore, you get the words " progressive" and "beneficial" which really are truthful in the sense they benefit these addicts who utter them. The only real problem I see is they take us over the cliff with them. It's the group punishment that truly grates. Then, when it blows up and all is gone, where do they go for value? Intangible must return to tangible at some point or I studied science all for naught.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 00:14 | 4406841 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Nothing wrong with balanced equations, my darling Miffed.  Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but I reckon akak a friend.  What say you?

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 00:44 | 4406899 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You could be right my dear Ace but remember, befriending a pirate is risky business. We could be run through smartly as a Bilge rat if provoked. Tread carefully and keep your épée's point raised at all times. ( I loved to fence in high school! Even disarmed Mr a couple of times when he was trying not to skewer my boob when he should have been watching my foil. He he)


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 09:26 | 4407397 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Of course, then again, as a small business owner it is incumbent upon me to view everyone I come into contact with as a pirate.  Not complaining- in fact, I rather enjoy the challenge.  Most all my customers are small business owners themselves.  All are pirates, in some sense.

Remember, this is 21st century America.  It's every (wo)man for himself- unless you're FSA.  There is no honor, or integrity.  There is only profit to be had, usually at another's expense.

As you warn, akak may be a pirate, but so am I.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 13:51 | 4408229 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Why do you think I hang out here rather than Pinterest? I come from a long line of fiery pirates, rugged individualists who expected me to be strong, tenacious and adventuresome. I have traded my birthright for a job with training wheels and debt slavery. This is why I have far more respect for you and akak because you are living a life of lean muscle and sinew, requiring quick movement to stay alive. You are the foundation of this country. The future is always in question. I live in a gilded cage with satin sheets and must fight to not be lulled to sleep with my fellow inmates. I used to think I was here to wake them from their slumber but I have failed miserably in that endeavor. So I sit here twiddling my thumbs until an opportunity to engage in a fight to disrupt their world.

Im essentially a bored hamstrung warrior with a touch of sadism who really needs a good dose of fluoride or Soma. I'd be so fortunate if you two pirates used flats instead of sharps to challenge me, being so flabby from disuse. I look forward to that day.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 14:19 | 4408389 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Don't be glum, chum!  Can't speak for akak, but I too live in a prison of my own making.  I took a few days off at Christmas, and my to-do list got so long I haven't yet recovered.  I may be independent, but I certainly ain't free.

Some days I wish I had just stayed an employee.  But I can't go back now, I'm too ornery and used to doing things my way for that.  I'd get fired in a week.

Oh and for the record, I'm no hero, either- just another tax donkey.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:55 | 4410233 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Well, it's good to know I'm not alone! My last job before the one I have now I got into a terrible fight with an orthopedic surgeon who thought he could cow me. He put his patients on massive antibiotics 10 days before surgery ( very wrong) and insisted I work up any bacteria in his cultures. I refused to work up colonies of skin bacteria he insisted I do. How the hell do you do surgery with out penetrating the skin? A few colonies of skin bacteria is normal.

This went to the highest levels of meetings and I was informed by upper management to comply with his demands. He was often a guest commentator in San Diego on several newscasts regarding medical issues so my hospital considered him quite an asset. Unfortunately for me the same situation arose and once again he told me to do something microbiologically wrong. I refused. He told me he'd get me fired and I told him to FOAD. Yep, he got me fired. Two I.D. Docs came to me after this and told me I was 100% right but they wouldn't support me publicly.

This was the fourth job I had lost. Mr, who always has let me do my thing, confronted me. What the hell did I accomplish? Are his patients any better off? Once again I had put us in financial hardship and he'd like to know how it was worth it. There were very few places I could work at this point. I admitted I ultimately accomplished nothing and the asshole won. I agreed not to do this again and I've managed to hold my current job for 13 years. Quite the record for me.

So, I've taken on the rich and influential and got my ass handed to me. I certainly know your feelings about being an employee. I've learned from Shawshank Redemption when your tarring a roof it's just best to mind your mop. But, if I ever got a chance at payback, wow would that be sweet!

Here's to you my friend and fellow tax donkey ( lifting my favorite cocktail after a hard days work).


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:38 | 4410392 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Miffed, I'm laughing.  Not at you but with you.  They, being the 'they' that nobody can quite define have barfed me out like Noah from the whale at least three times.  At first, I was confused- Why would someone I helped toss me in the trash?

Later, I began to know that they don't want my help- They want my compliance.

And this, my dearest Miffed, is the one thing they'll never have.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:11 | 4410467 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Yes, my friend, compliance is the key. It is the one and only goal. Had I cried uncle I would have been spared. The one thing I would not do. So, I guess,in a sense, I did win. I'm still me and not living with a boot on the back of my neck. I couldn't live with myself if I succumbed to such a arrogant, strutting asshole who prided himself having the world bow down as he passed. Funny how we are just not appreciated much in the corporate world where the sycophants seem to thrive. I think this calls for one more scotch even though I will get a look of consternation.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:31 | 4410529 acetinker
acetinker's picture

I wonder what we could have accomplished, if left to our own devices.  Another scotch seems appropriate, and you won't get a sideways look from me.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:53 | 4410702 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

A true gentleman you are! And a tad seductive and flirtatious as well. But I've had a bit much to drink and the walls get pressed slightly off their foundations. There is truth in drink... well, to a point.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:15 | 4410487 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Umm, i meant Jonas, btw.  Not Noah.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:29 | 4410528 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I got what you meant. I had to read the Apocrypha when I was told it was not approved reading. ;-)


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 23:57 | 4410589 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Catholic school girl, huh?  You have come a long way m'lady.  Religion is a confusing thing.  But, as my daddy said, every good lie contains a fair amount of truth.

Now,  look here and know that I want to hold and keep you.  Oh wait!  I want you to be free!

The trick is in knowing which is true.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:35 | 4410665 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Oh boy, that obvious? Saint Thomas Aquinas elementary school. Villanova prep high school. Gonzaga University. Wow, did those Jesuits get off on me! They welcomed me with open arms after I ran from the Calvanists at Whitworth. I will say they kept me on my toes arguing theology with an Anglican mystic! Duality is my middle name and I comfortably live in both worlds without negating either or going insane holding both at the same time. My freedom is not being defined or boxed. Many frustrate themselves trying however. ;-)


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 00:46 | 4410689 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Like i said, you have come a long way.  And this is why I love you, and Mr. Miffed, of course.

Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:03 | 4410723 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

He's truly my better half. Infinite patience is required to herd cats. He does try to keep me on a short leash now. Tired of chasing off the men who have offered to take me off his hands I guess. But I am loyal and forever grateful to have the love of a good man. Good night my dear friend.


Fri, 02/07/2014 - 01:18 | 4410747 acetinker
acetinker's picture

As to herding cats- it ain't possible.  As to being blown off by an online friend... well it is what it is.  Godspeed, Miffed!

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 21:25 | 4410138 aka_ces
aka_ces's picture

and Miffed, your words make it a pleasure to read your thoughts.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 22:02 | 4410277 Miffed Microbio...
Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Well, thank you for the surprise.Sometimes I think I'm just talking to myself. ;-)


Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:49 | 4406453 hairball48
hairball48's picture

Yeah...good article for rednecks like me.

For me, as a hairball economist, I see the economy  as a giant "fraction" with fiat currencies in the numerator, and what I call "real stuff" in the denominator.

"1" being the ideal result.

Unfortunately, the way I see it, the actual result has been a number far greater than 1 and growing larger by the second.

So gold and silver it is for me bitchez!!




Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:47 | 4406462 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

TL/DR but I did love that episode he refers to - The Trouble With Triffins.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:47 | 4406463 delivered
delivered's picture

This article stops too short. I understand the concept and conclusions drawn but it needs to finish the story as to why the other currencies listed as reserve (average life span of 95 years) eventually failed and were replaced by the next "fiat up". So two questions:

- What were the triggers or signs that resulted in the old fiat being shown the door (at least as a reserve currency)? Interesting, the USD became the reserve currency during a period which I believe they had large trade surpluses during the roaring 20's (when of course ended very badly with the Great Depression). Sounds a little like China today (running large surpluses over the past decade and grew at elevated rates).

- What were the underlying conditions present for the country with the old fiat? I'm guessing excessive debt, over extended global reach/involvement (military led), and a government attempting to maintain central control (not allowing the market to work efficiently). 

Any insight on what were the reasons for the rise of a new reserve currency and fall of the old would be appreciated. 


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 00:31 | 4406863 MrPoopypants
MrPoopypants's picture

There is a very good book devoted to this subject, Wealth and Democracy by Kevin Phillips. He looks at the rise and fall of modern European empires. First there is a period of work ethic and innovation, which leads to dominance in manufactures and trade. This is followed by a degree of military preeminence and expansion, and finally on the downslope there is a financialization of the economy marked by deindustrialization, derivatives, and speculation. Basically, a country gets rich from hard work, thrift, and luck -- then later generations grow soft and lazy and blow their inheritance on luxuries.

As far as a "trigger" for loss of reserve currency, I don't recall if he looks for that exactly. It's more about the broader determining circumstances.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:37 | 4406982 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

Eventually 'rich' country's get RICHER by greed, and then become dependent upon standing army's to rape & pillage other tribes.

The population hires [Praetorians-FBI/CIA/NSA] mercenary's as the natives get fat and lazy, then the mercenary's pillage the 'rich'.

We are there now :)

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 00:57 | 4406927 Gamma735
Gamma735's picture


Conquering Empires establish their currency as reserve on the way.  The Empires bankrupt themselves trying to maintain the empire. The Empire fails and a new Empire and currency emerges.  Viola!  And the circle of life is complete when you spinkle in a few giant wars.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 21:51 | 4406478 wisehiney
wisehiney's picture

FTW. Make my dollar strong.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:10 | 4406540 Balanced Integer
Balanced Integer's picture

Doesn't seem like such a dilemma to me. As has often been said, no country ever failed because its currency was too strong. Let American fiscal/financial policy be directed for the benefit of Americans, and let the other countries do what is best for theirs.

But I'm just a layman in that world. What do I know?

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:15 | 4406558 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

It's a "DILEMMA" because its counter-intuitive.

The PTB think OH we're strong, we can send unlimited FIAT to ISRAEL for free, trouble is when you have to murder your own people ( we're all palestinians ), and murder the world, eventually you run out of people to kill, and your power & prestige is not what you expected.

Thus its a dilemma, NOTE nobody ever asked the US PUBLIC, "DO YOU WANT TO BE RESERVE CURRENCY"?

Do you want to see 1/2 the USA population murdered do you want to murder the entire world so we can send the world toilet-paper and get back food&oil for free?

It's a dilemma because to a moron in the FSA it sounds like a good idea, until the day he finds the DHS on his doorstep to take him to CAMP-FEMA for the BIG-FUCK(tm).

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 09:53 | 4407486 odatruf
odatruf's picture

We are asked every two years if we want to keep doing what we are doing and we resoundingly demand a second or twentieth helping of the same shit.

Clearly it can be said that a choice between two of the same isn't really a choice, but the status quo reelection rate of > 90% is an indictment of us all.


Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:12 | 4406549 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

Declaraton of War

Voted a '5' on the basis that finally ZH is educated its readers and not simply feeding them shit and keeping them in the dark.



What Triffen say's is ..

That a country that is reserve must ..

1.) Export all its jobs in order to get other country's to play along

2.) Kill all its own citizens who bitch & moan about losing said jobs, see #1

3.) Murder the entire world, to make sure the entire world trades in said 'reserve currency'.

Who that is not a sociopath would want this? Nobody, so why do we have it? Because of ISRAEL, post 1947 ISRAEL needed money and lots of money to create their SOVERIEGN PARADISE. So they used the USA to funnel money to Israel. This is why every FED-RES chairman is a dual ISRAEL citizen. Just like EUROPE, the FED has sent TRILLIONS to ISRAEL in secret.

This has DESTROYED the USA, and its lost. All we can hope is that we RESET the USA and take out AIPAC, and then ISRAEL will implode the day they quit getting free money sent to the "BANK of ISrael" courtesy of uncle sam. Then we let the ARab's & Persian's settle with Israel, we don't do shit.


How do we recover the USA, we get rid of the Federal-Reserve and then only allow the US-CONGRESS to control money or create money.

All GOLDman-Sachs, JPM bankers of course will be EXPORTED to Israel upon reset.

Have a nice day,... Remember the USA Constitution say's "at all times the people have the right to ALTER or ABOLISH the Government"

That time is NOW.

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:28 | 4406586 youngman
youngman's picture

Just like Twitter tonight...there will be a day..or night..where someone no longer wants US Dollars...and tries to get rid of them fast....and down it it will start a cascade of who wants a Boulivar right now..or a Peso from Argentina

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:38 | 4407176 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Or a line from Columbia?

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:38 | 4406625 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

Triffin proposed the creation of new reserve units.   These units would not depend on gold or currencies, but would add to the world's total liquidity.

ok, but what would those new reserve units look like, according to Triffin?   the article doesn't go into that, so a search on "triffin reserve units" gave this link at the top of the list:

Money Matters: An IMF Exhibit -- The Importance of Global Cooperation

with the exact same graphic as what's in the above article.


Wed, 02/05/2014 - 22:55 | 4406671 PeaBird
PeaBird's picture

Why are we presented with a set of binary options of either trade deficit into perpetuity or trade surplus into perpetuity?

Whatever happened to the third option of running balanced trade, where exports roughly equal imports, so that perhaps one year a small trade deficit may develop, whilst the next, a small trade surplus?

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 23:07 | 4406710 BruntFCA
BruntFCA's picture

False dichotemy.

The concept of the "reserve currecy" is outdated and needs to go.

In the past, this "reserve" was in fact, gold, and the dollar was just a proxy for gold. France put an end to that by calling the bluff and Nixon "temporarily closed the gold window".

*With current technolgy there is no a-priori reason for oil, commodities, rare-earth metals etc to be priced in dollars*.

It is simply a system enforced by the USA, by more than 700 military bases word wide; woe betide any nation that tries to settle in other countries. The dollar system is great mechanism of "you work I eat." Nigeria borrows 1billion in the 1970s to "develop" it's economy, 1billion fresh fiat, digital, approximately in binary 4 bytes, 111011100110101100101000000000.

By the magic of compound interest it now "owes" $50 billion. Better sell that oil so that New York banks can get their interest payments. Free the people, enslave the currency. The author of this article is obviously enslaved to the idea that for some reason, all banks word wide must settle in this reserve?

Even in the 19th century it was possible to finance international trade with real bills, meaning that unlike today, only the balance would need be financed in a moderate amount of gold. Contrast that today where typically the whole deal is underwritten (more money = bigger fees).

The system is thankfully breaking down, with China/Russia and even Africa agreeing to settle in different currencies; currently it's still difficult to operate outside the Anglo American finance system however. In addition to countries setting their own clearing systems outside the Anglosphere, crypto currencies are also likely to throw a spanner in the works. The Anglo/American banking sytem is not capitalism, but CRAPitalism.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 00:05 | 4406829 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

one solution appears to be to print money with total impunity, launch moves of naked aggression against people who truly represent no threat to the USA, stand idly by while out friends make desperate pleas for leadership with the resounding cry of "show me the money bitch" resounding in their ear, etc, etc.

I say "let the chew on Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber" for a while...otherwise we'll be forced to bring out the "big guns" of 70 year old Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin replays.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:50 | 4406991 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

If & when the fire get's hot for the PTB, you can legalize drugs (marijuana) and let everybody get high, and forget about their misery.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 01:49 | 4406988 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

Triffin’s Dilemma is that the country that issues the world’s reserve currency will have to choose between:

1.) Exporting your jobs, killing your UN-employed citizens, and murdering the world to force them to trade in your currency.


2.) Let another country send you their jobs, and let you borrow their money ( and never pay back ), and let another country run itself into the ground being the worlds-policeman.

All nations on earth except the USA, has chosen #2, only the US of AIPAC has chosen #1.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:05 | 4407157 falak pema
falak pema's picture

Here is an extract from a book that resumes the 1960s stand off between Kennedy (defending the USD hegemony) and De Gaulle (under influence of Austrian Jacques Rueff) defending his trade balance surpluses by demanding gold instead of greenbacks.

It shaped the coming age of Euro rapprochement and the morph of Pax Americana from benevolent to malevolent hegemon.

Triffin's Dilemma conextualised in terms of the Great Political Power game of the 1960s  :

Between Empire and Alliance: America and Europe During the Cold War - Google Livres

Good reading, even if we don't have the unexpurgated version on the Net (for commericial reasons). 

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:11 | 4407163 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

De Gaulle (under influence of Austrian Jacques Rueff) defending his trade balance surpluses by demanding gold instead of greenbacks.


Rather embarrassing for Uncle-Sam when the French are demanding something that uncle-sam doesn't have aka GOLD.

Now wonder the ameriKKKan's hate french-frys.

In the 1990's people died for demanding gold for their oil, DeGaulle is damn lucky he never me GW BUSH.


Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:10 | 4407158 satoshi911
satoshi911's picture

That status has been a gift for the US: it has allowed it to run a deficit in perpetuity.


The status lets the US Government run the worlds largest criminal enterprise in world history for free.

So long as the FED can generate FIAT-to-INFINITE for free, the US-MIL can steal the the worlds OIL.

Remember the US-MIL is the worlds largest consumer of fossile fuel.


The biggest lie on ZH is the DEBT lie,... there is NO debt uncle sam just pay's ALL his BILLS with free money.

What happens when he can't do that anymore? Then all implodes the US-MIL goes home to their wives, the FSA goes cannibal, and WASH-DC dies.

All good right?

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 06:42 | 4407179 negative rates
negative rates's picture

It's called a constitutional convention, that's what happens.

Thu, 02/06/2014 - 08:44 | 4407284 Fix-ItSilly
Fix-ItSilly's picture

I like Triffin but this 50 year old thought needs a tune-up.  For example , the US ran an ever increasing trade deficit in the '90s and the USD soared.

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 23:32 | 4416521 Liberty2012
Liberty2012's picture

"Someone’s going to be left holding the bag. Try not to let it be you."

Global Fractional Reserve Financial System = Global Misallocation (Theft) of Work

There's no avoiding it. Everyone is (and will be) involved. Your best choice is to rediscover values. Truth is always good - even when we've made a mistake.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!