From the Emirates Business 24/7 magazine
By Insead Knowledge on Sunday, December 27, 2009
A new global currency should replace the US dollar as the international reserve currency, as the long-term deterioration of America's economy and the greenback is fuelling a "currency-regime crisis", says Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics commentator of the Financial Times.
Wolf, who has honorary doctorates from three universities, bases his argument in part on the Triffin dilemma, an economic paradox named after economist Robert Triffin. The paradox shows that the US dollar's role as a global reserve currency leads to a conflict between US national monetary policy and global monetary policy. It also points to fundamental imbalances in the balance of payments, particularly in the US current account.
Speaking at an event organised by the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Wolf said Triffin believed that the host nation of a global reserve currency will inevitably run up a huge current account deficit that would consequently undermine the credibility of its currency and adversely impact the global economy. "You can't have an open globalised economy that relies for its ultimate liquidity on the currency of one country. That was his [Triffin's] argument. And, therefore, he said the Bretton Woods system would break, which it did. And exactly the same thing happened with Bretton Woods II, which is the system of pegging.
"So I agree with this. And I'm absolutely convinced now, in a way that I was not three or four years ago, that we cannot continue with a genuinely global economy which relies on national money, and that's not sold by just adding another couple (of currencies). It actually means having a global money."
Indeed, Wolf said he's in complete agreement with China's Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan, who has argued for a new global currency "most credibly and convincingly".
"On the dollar, there is nothing to support this currency except the Chinese government and a few other governments that are prepared to buy it," said Wolf. "Anybody can look at the arithmetic of the fiscal deficit, the monetary policy, the external balance, which has improved but largely because of the recession, the dollar is not adequately supported." The US currently has a national debt in excess of $12 trillion (Dh44trn) or almost $40,000 per citizen, with a debt to GDP ratio of more than 85 per cent. In the July-September quarter, the US current account deficit rose sharply by 10.3 per cent from the previous quarter to $108bn. In the past year, the US dollar index, which measures the performance of the greenback against a basket of currencies, has also fallen significantly.
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