When the US Dollar is ultimately dethroned as the world's reserve currency (and finally gets rid of all those ridiculous three letter post-Keynesian economic "theories") nobody will have seen it coming. Well, nobody except for the following headlines: ""World's Second (China) And Third Largest (Japan) Economies To Bypass Dollar, Engage In Direct Currency Trade", "China, Russia Drop Dollar In Bilateral Trade", "China And Iran To Bypass Dollar, Plan Oil Barter System", "India and Japan sign new $15bn currency swap agreement", "Iran, Russia Replace Dollar With Rial, Ruble in Trade, Fars Says", "India Joins Asian Dollar Exclusion Zone, Will Transact With Iran In Rupees." And while the expansion of the "dollar exclusion zone" was actually quite glaring to anyone who dared to look, one thing was obvious: it was confined to Asia. No more courtesy of the following FT headline: "Brazil and China agree currency swap." More: "Brazil has provided a vote of confidence in China’s efforts to promote the renminbi as a reserve currency by becoming the biggest economy yet to agree a swap deal with Beijing. Brazil and China announced the R$60bn (US$29bn) local currency swap after a bilateral meeting between Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, and Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, on the sidelines of the Rio+20 environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro."
“It is a measure that reinforces the economies of both countries,” Guido Mantega, Brazil’s finance minister, said late on Thursday night.
Well, that... and also a measure which shows that one by one every country in the world is starting to think of the post-dollar world.
China has launched an aggressive campaign of “currency swap diplomacy”, signing about 20 such agreements over the past four years with countries ranging from Argentina to Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
While these have been largely symbolic – only Hong Kong so far has had to activate its swap line after a shortage of renminbi in the territory in 2010 – they are seen as helping the long march of the internationalisation of the Chinese currency.
They are inactive only as long as they are not activated. And that, as the Federal Reserve bank of JPMorgan the United States has shown can be done with just the flip of a switch.
What happens next is usually best summarized by the following chart which has long been one of our favorites.