Amid all the chatter of Venezuela and Russia potentially creating oil-backed cryptocurrencies, the "huge news" of China's launch of the Petro-Yuan has fallen off the front page... until now.
This week saw the Shanghai Futures Exchange complete its fifth yuan-back oil futures contract trading drill successfully...
As Bloomberg reports, 149 members of Shanghai International Energy Exchange traded 647,930 lots in the drill with total value of 268.2b yuan, according to a statement from the exchange, which added that the system basically met the listing requirements of crude futures after the drill.
While this was a success, it's not all plain-saling...
As Bloomberg notes, as the world’s largest energy consumer and an increasing source of investment capital for oil-producing nations, China has an interest in using its own currency rather than that of a geopolitical competitor.
One hurdle for setting up a rival to Brent or West Texas Intermediate: Overseas oil producers and traders would need to swallow China’s capital controls and penchant for occasional market interventions.
Similar hurdles have kept foreign investors as bit players in China’s giant mainland stock and bond markets, and the share of payments in Yuan in the Global SWIFT system has fallen...
"This contract has the potential to greatly help China’s push for yuan internationalization," said Yao Wei, chief China economist at Societe Generale SA in Paris.
"But its success will hinge critically on the degree of freedom allowed for the capital flows related to the contract," she said.
"It is not unreasonable to envision a world in which the overwhelming share of commodity contracts, especially for oil, are no longer denominated just in dollars," said Eswar Prasad, a former China division chief at the IMF.
But "the yuan’s role in global finance will ultimately be determined by the degree of commitment of Xi Jinping’s government to economic and financial market reforms."
But, as we detailed previously, the writing is on the wall for dollar hegemony, and we suspect teh decline in global yuan trade volumes is another reason for China to push ahead sooner.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin said almost two months ago during the BRICs summit in Xiamen,
“Russia shares the BRICS countries’ concerns over the unfairness of the global financial and economic architecture, which does not give due regard to the growing weight of the emerging economies. We are ready to work together with our partners to promote international financial regulation reforms and to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies.”
As Pepe Escobar recently noted, 'to overcome the excessive domination of the limited number of reserve currencies' is the politest way of stating what the BRICS have been discussing for years now; how to bypass the US dollar, as well as the petrodollar.
Beijing is ready to step up the game. Soon China will launch a crude oil futures contract priced in yuan. This means that Russia – as well as Iran, the other key node of Eurasia integration – may bypass US sanctions by trading energy in their own currencies, or in yuan. Inbuilt in the move is a true Chinese win-win; the yuan - according to some - will be fully convertible into gold on both the Shanghai and Hong Kong exchanges.
The new triad of oil, yuan and gold is actually a win-win-win. No problem at all if energy providers prefer to be paid in physical gold instead of yuan. The key message is the US dollar being bypassed.
China's plans for oil futures trading go back more than two decades, with the government introducing a domestic crude contract in 1993 and stopping a year later amid an overhaul of its energy industry. But in 2013, we first hinted at the birth of the petroyuan was looming...
In doing so China is effectively lobbing the first shot across the bow of the Petrodollar system, and more importantly, the key support of the USD in the international arena... setting the scene for the petroyuan.
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And now it just became one step closer to reality, as Bloomberg reports, China’s government State Council has officially approved the listing of a crude futures contract in Shanghai, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the date of launch will be determined by China Securities Regulatory Commission and Shanghai Futures Exchange, it would appear we are within weeks of it becoming a reality as China prepares to roll out a yuan-denominated oil contract...
"Approval of the trading rules by the securities regulator marks the clearance of a major hurdle toward launch of the contract," Li Zhoulei, an analyst with Everbright Futures, said by phone.
"The latest rules raised entry threshold for investors from the draft rules, which shows the government wants to avoid volatility when it first starts trading."
Which, according to Adam Levinson, of hedge fund manager Graticule Asset Management Asia, will be a “wake up call” for investors who haven’t paid attention to the plans.