Trump Says “No” to World Money

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Over the course of 13 years as a media commentator and nine years as a bestselling author, I’ve had frequent occasion to state the following:

“In 1998, Wall Street came together to bail out a hedge fund. In 2008, the Federal Reserve stepped forward to bail out Wall Street. Each crisis was worse than the one before. In the next crisis, who will bail out the Fed?”

This was more than just rhetoric. It was a clinical description of a pattern of worsening crises on an approximately 10-year tempo, along with escalating bailouts.

Now the worst economic crisis in U.S. history is here and the Fed itself is in need of a bailout.

But what is the source of that bailout?

We now know part of the answer. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Congress passed a $2.2 trillion bailout bill called the CARES Act. This is the law that provided $349 billion in small-business loans, which are forgivable if the employer does not lay off its employees.

That fund has dried up already with most businesses getting either no money or not enough to survive more than a few weeks.

Also buried in that law was a $425 billion bailout fund for the Treasury to recapitalize the Fed. Since the Fed operates like a bank, they will leverage that $425 billion of new capital into $4.25 trillion of new money printing to buy corporate debt, municipal bonds, mortgages and other assets in order to keep liquidity in the system.

Still, that’s also a temporary solution when many more trillions of dollars of new money will be needed.

U.S. GDP is expected to lose an annualized $6 trillion or more in output in the second quarter. I estimate that 50% of retail and 90% of office rents aren’t being paid right now. Many small businesses will fail and probably never reopen.

I had always suggested that the IMF has the only clean balance sheet and would be the only source of liquidity in the world once the Fed was tapped out.

That’s exactly what we’re seeing now. The world is turning to the IMF for help. And that means printing the world money called special drawing rights (SDRs) to bail out the global financial system in the current economic and financial crisis.

SDRs were used in a small way during the 2008 financial crisis. They did not have much impact because the quantity was relatively small (about $250 billion equivalent) and it took a long time to get done. The SDRs were issued in August 2009, almost a year after the acute phase of the crisis and after a recovery had already begun.

Still, the 2009 issuance was a good dry run in preparation for the next crisis. Now the next crisis is here.

The world has never been so deeply in debt.

Societies with low debt burdens are robust to disaster. They can mobilize capital, raise taxes, increase spending and rebuild when the crisis is over.

But heavily indebted societies are much more brittle. They just don’t have that flexibility. Meanwhile, panicked creditors demand repayment that causes distressed sales of assets, falling markets and default.

That’s the situation we’re facing today.

Still, nothing this momentous happens without a heavy injection of politics, especially while Donald Trump and his “America First” agenda are in place.

A normal SDR printing exercise requires that the total SDRs be issued to all IMF members in proportion to their voting rights in the IMF. This means that U.S. adversaries such as Iran and China would get part of the bailout money along with more needy countries in Africa and Latin America.

The U.S. is now holding up the new issuance of new SDRs for exactly this reason.

We’ll see how this impasse gets resolved. Perhaps new SDRs will be issued right away. But as the depression lingers and the Fed’s impotence is exposed, the issue of printing a trillion SDRs will be back on the table.

China may have their own conditions such as a diminution in the role of the dollar as a global reserve currency. The U.S. may be more desperate when the time comes. Either way, this issue will not go away.

SDRs were originally intended as a kind of “paper gold.” Once the IMF starts the printing presses, investors will probably favor real gold as the proper antidote.

Below, I show you why gold is coming back to the global monetary system. As you’ll see, It can be done either in an orderly fashion, or a chaotic fashion. Read on.

Regards,

Jim Rickards
for The Daily Reckoning

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Get Ready for World Money

This post Get Ready for World Money appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

Since Federal Reserve resources were barely able to prevent complete collapse in 2008, it should be expected that an even larger collapse will overwhelm the Fed’s balance sheet.

That’s exactly the situation we’re facing right now.

The specter of a global debt crisis suggests the urgency for new liquidity sources, bigger than those that central banks can provide. The logic leads quickly to one currency for the planet.

The task of re-liquefying the world will fall to the IMF because the IMF will have the only clean balance sheet left among official institutions. The IMF will rise to the occasion with a towering issuance of special drawing rights (SDRs), and this monetary operation will effectively end the dollar’s role as the leading reserve currency.

The Federal Reserve has a printing press, they can print dollars. The IMF also has a printing press and can print SDRs. It’s just world money that could be handed out.

The IMF could function like a central bank through more frequent issuance of SDRs and by encouraging the use of “private SDRs” by banks and borrowers.

What exactly is an SDR?

The SDR is a form of world money printed by the IMF. It was created in 1969 as the realization of an earlier idea for world money called the “bancor,” proposed by John Maynard Keynes at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944.

The bancor was never adopted, but the SDR has been going strong for 50 years. I am often asked, “If I had 100 SDRs how many dollars would that be worth? How many euros would that be worth?”

There’s a formula for determining that, and as of today there are five currencies in the formula: dollars, sterling, yen, euros and yuan. Those are the five currencies that comprise in the SDR calculation.

The important thing to realize that the SDR is a source of potentially unlimited global liquidity. That’s why SDRs were invented in 1969 (when the world was seeking alternatives to the dollar), and that’s why they will be used in the imminent future.

At the previous rate of progress, it may have taken decades for the SDR to pose a serious challenge to the dollar. But as I’ve said for years, that process could be rapidly accelerated in a financial crisis where the world needed liquidity and the central banks were unable to provide it because they still have not normalized their balance sheets from the last crisis.

“In that case,” I’ve argued previously, “the replacement of the dollar could happen almost overnight.”

Well, guess what?

We’re facing a global financial crisis worse even than 2008. That’s because each crisis is larger than the previous one. The reason has to do with the system scale. In complex dynamic systems such as capital markets, risk is an exponential function of system scale. Increasing market scale correlates with exponentially larger market collapses.

This means a market panic far larger than the Panic of 2008.

SDRs have been used before. They were issued in several tranches during the monetary turmoil between 1971 and 1981 before they were put back on the shelf. In 2009 (also in a time of financial crisis). A new issue of SDRs was distributed to IMF members to provide liquidity after the panic of 2008.

The 2009 issuance was a case of the IMF “testing the plumbing” of the system to make sure it worked properly. With no issuance of SDRs for 28 years, from 1981–2009, the IMF wanted to rehearse the governance, computational and legal processes for issuing SDRs.

The purpose was partly to alleviate liquidity concerns at the time, but also partly to make sure the system works in case a large new issuance was needed on short notice. The 2009 experience showed the system worked fine.

Since 2009, the IMF has proceeded in slow steps to create a platform for massive new issuances of SDRs and the creation of a deep liquid pool of SDR-denominated assets.

On Jan. 7, 2011, the IMF issued a master plan for replacing the dollar with SDRs. This included the creation of an SDR bond market, SDR dealers, and ancillary facilities such as repos, derivatives, settlement and clearance channels, and the entire apparatus of a liquid bond market. A liquid bond market is critical.

The IMF study recommended that the SDR bond market replicate the infrastructure of the U.S. Treasury market, with hedging, financing, settlement and clearance mechanisms substantially similar to those used to support trading in Treasury securities today.

In November 2015, the Executive Committee of the IMF formally voted to admit the Chinese yuan into the basket of currencies into which an SDR is convertible.

In July 2016, the IMF issued a paper calling for the creation of a private SDR bond market. These bonds are called “M-SDRs” (for market SDRs) in contrast to “O-SDRs” (for official SDRs).

In August 2016, the World Bank announced that it would issue SDR-denominated bonds to private purchasers. Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the largest bank in China, will be the lead underwriter on the deal.

In September 2016, the IMF included the Chinese yuan in the SDR basket, giving China seat at the monetary table.

Over the next several years, we will see the issuance of SDRs to transnational organizations, such as the U.N. and World Bank, to be spent on climate change infrastructure and other elite pet projects outside the supervision of any democratically elected bodies. (I call this the New Blueprint for Worldwide Inflation.)

The SDR can be issued in abundance to IMF members and can also be used in the future for a select list of the most important transactions in the world, including balance-of-payments settlements, oil pricing and the financial accounts of the world’s largest corporations, such as Exxon Mobil, Toyota and Royal Dutch Shell.

So the international monetary elite has been awaiting the global liquidity crisis that we’re facing right now. In the not-too-distant future, there will be massive issuances of SDRs to return liquidity to the world. The result will be the end of the dollar as the leading global reserve currency.

SDRs will perhaps never be issued in bank note form and may never be used on an everyday basis by citizens around the world. But even such limited usage does not alter the fact that the SDR is world money controlled by elites.

But monetary resets have happened three times before, in 1914, 1939 and 1971. On average, it happens about every 30 or 40 years. We’re going on 50.

So we’re long overdue.

You’ll still have dollars, but they’ll be local currency like the Mexican peso, for example. But its global dominance will end.

Based on past practice, we can expect that the dollar will be devalued by 50–80% in the coming years.

A devaluation of this magnitude will wipe out the value of your life’s savings. You’ll still have just as many dollars, but they won’t be worth nearly as much.

Individuals will not be allowed to own SDRs, but you can still protect your wealth by buying gold — if you can find any.

Regards,

Jim Rickards
for The Daily Reckoning

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The Great Dollar Shortage

This post The Great Dollar Shortage appeared first on Daily Reckoning.

The coronavirus pandemic is a human tragedy. It’s also an economic tragedy, as the global economy is collapsing around us.

Second-quarter U.S. GDP may drop as much as 30%, which is a staggering figure. Many economists predict a third-quarter recovery, but there are still so many unknowns that it’s impossible to say.

It’s still too soon to say when America will reopen for business. And you can’t just flip a switch and return things to normal. That’s not how economies function.

Many industries may never recover and millions may be out of work for extended periods.

At the very least, we’re heading into a severe recession. And we could well be heading for a full-scale depression.

That’s not being alarmist.

The crisis will also accelerate the collapse of the dollar as the world’s leading reserve currency. So you need to prepare now. What do I mean?

The U.S. dollar is at the center of global trade.

The dollar represents about 60% of global reserve assets, 80% of global payments and almost 100% of global oil sales. About 40% of the world’s debt is issued in dollars.

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) estimates that foreign banks hold over $13 trillion in dollar-denominated assets.

All this, despite the fact that the U.S. economy only accounts for about 15% of global GDP.

The reason the dollar is the world’s leading reserve currency is because there’s a very large liquid dollar-denominated bond market. Investors can go buy 30-day 10-year, 30-year Treasury notes, etc. The point is there’s a deep, liquid dollar-denominated bond market.

But the coronavirus crisis is creating a massive problem for foreign nations dependent on the dollar.

That’s because the world is facing a critical dollar shortage.

Many observers are surprised to hear about a dollar shortage. After all, didn’t the Fed print almost $4 trillion to bail out the system after 2008?

Yes, but while the Fed was printing $4 trillion, the world was creating $100 trillion in new debt.

This huge debt pyramid was fine as long as global growth was solid and dollars were flowing out of the U.S. and into emerging markets.

But that’s no longer the case, and that’s an understatement. Global growth was anemic before the crisis hit. Now it’s contracting rapidly.

If dollars are in short supply, China can’t control its currency and emerging markets can’t roll over their debts.

But again, you might say, isn’t the Fed engaged in its most massive liquidity injections ever and extending swap lines to foreign central banks to ensure they can access dollars?

Yes, but it’s not nearly enough to meet global funding needs.

Foreign nations are scrambling to acquire dollars right now. And that surging demand for dollars only drives up the value of the dollar, which puts additional strain on their ability to service debt.

When those debt holders want their money back, $4 trillion is not enough to finance $100 trillion, unless new debt replaces the old. That’s what causes a global liquidity crisis.

We’re facing a global liquidity crisis far worse than the one that occurred in 2008. In fact, the world is heading for a debt crisis not seen since the 1930s.

The trend away from the dollar was already underway before the latest crisis, led by China and Russia. Now that trend will greatly accelerate as the world seeks to eliminate, or greatly reduce, its dependence on the dollar.

That’s not just my opinion, by the way. Here’s what Eswar Prasad, former head of the IMF’s China team, says:

“The dollar’s surge will renew calls for a shift from a dollar-centric global financial system.”

It can happen much faster than you think. And the dollar’s days are more numbered now than ever.

But what will replace it? And why can you expect the dollar to lose up to 80% of its value in the years ahead? Read on.

Regards

Jim Rickards
for The Daily Reckoning

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