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美元獨霸地位的黃昏時刻 – John Rapley
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瑞普利教授在《獨立思考》雜誌的文章從歷史和經濟兩個角度比較羅馬和美國霸權的興、衰過程。雖然他提到聯合國貨幣金融會議很可惜我看不出他文章標題和內容的一致性與相關性。其次,從瑞普利教授的語調和用字遣詞看,此文的意識型態含量超標。不過,這篇大作仍有可欣賞和值得參考之處。

聯合國貨幣金融會議的運作和簡史請參閱CEPR上的這篇

關於美元目前地位和未來趨勢請參考本欄第二篇路透社的報導。


The end of dollar supremacy

The West's imperial lifecycle is drawing to a close

JOHN RAPLEY

In January 1999, in a Washington of bustling bars and soaring stock markets, Bill Clinton rose to deliver his State of the Union address. America was so untroubled by threat or misfortune that it had spent the previous year debating the precise significance of fellatio (
口交). But Clinton, who had survived the scandal, exuded unshakeable personal and civilisational self-confidence. Declaring “a new dawn for America” and a future of “limitless possibility”, he called on Congress to decide how to spend all the record surpluses the government was soon going to enjoy. America’s only inconvenience, it seemed, was too much money. Today, as America struggles to support a crumbling dollar, marshal allies against Russia, ward off a rising China, it’s easy to forget that barely two decades ago it strode the planet like a colossus.

But pride before a fall has an ancient lineage, and only the arrogance of the historical present could treat American imperial decline as a novel phenomenon, let alone mere metaphor. Some 16 centuries before Clinton, in an uncannily similar setting of domes and colonnades, a Roman orator stood before the imperial Senate to deliver an equally triumphal speech. It was 1 January 399, inauguration day for the latest in a millennium-old line of consuls, the most prestigious Roman office. This year’s candidate
was Flavius Mallius Theodorus. After rising to praise his audience — “here I see gathered all the brilliance of the world” — he went on to proclaim the dawn of a new Golden Age, celebrating the unparalleled prosperity of the Empire.

Rome’s rapid comeuppance (
報應) is now a historical parable that America can learn from in real-time. Because the rhetoric of Clinton and his ancient predecessor was spoken from atop the crest of the same wave: an identical process of rise and decline which Peter Heather and I, in our new book, call “the imperial lifecycle”. Empires grow rich and powerful and attain supremacy through the economic exploitation of their colonial periphery. But in the process, they inadvertently spur the economic development of that same periphery until it can roll back and ultimately displace its overlord.

America has never thought of itself as an empire, mainly because with the exception of the few islands in the Pacific and Caribbean, it has never accumulated a large network of overseas territories. But this modern European model, in which colonies were (and in a few cases, still are) administered by governors who answered directly to the imperial capital, was but one of many. The late Roman Empire, for instance, functioned as an “inside-out” empire — effectively run from the provinces, with Rome serving more as a spiritual than administrative capital. What held it all together was the shared culture of the provincial nobility that ran it, most of whom has provincial origins but had been socialised into what Peter Heather has called the imperial culture of “Latin, towns and togas (
羅馬官服)”.

The American Empire — or more accurately the American-led Western empire — mirrors this confederal model, with an updated cultural-political glue that we might call “neoliberalism, Nato and denim”. Under this regime, the nation-state was primary, borders were inviolable, relatively open trade and capital movement prevailed, governing elites were committed to liberal principles, and bureaucracy was based on increasingly standardised education systems (with economics training assuming an increasingly central role as the century progressed). But since its establishment in 1944 at the Bretton Woods conference, its fundamental economic model has been in the timeless imperial mould: exploitation of the periphery to the benefit of the imperial core.


The great wave of decolonisation that followed the war was meant to end that. But the Bretton Woods system, which created a trading regime that favoured industrial over primary producers and enshrined the dollar as the global reserve currency, ensured that the net flow of financial resources continued to move from developing countries to developed ones. Even when the economies of the newly-independent states grew, those of the G7 economies and their partners grew more. And while the treaty arrangements that cemented this system were periodically updated at international summits, even then the US and its main trading partners would typically draft a deal for sign-off by everyone else. As a result, the gap between rich and poor countries grew bigger than ever.


Clinton was speaking at the all-time peak of this American imperial order. Two years earlier, a financial crisis that had begun in Asia had ricocheted across the developing world. And when protesters filled streets and governments across the Global South collapsed, the rich in developing countries panicked and sent their money into the safe haven of US Treasury paper. That influx of cash sent the late Nineties US economy into overdrive, creating the abundance that Clinton took to be endless.
 

In fact, as he was speaking, the overall flow of global capital had already begun moving the other way. By this time, quietly but steadily, developing countries like China and India had shaken off the torpor of earlier decades and were starting to grow in leaps and bounds. The brief recessions induced in developing countries by the Asian Crisis and the consequent boom in the West obscured the fact that the really dynamic economies of the world were now in what was called the Third World. Once the protests died down and normal business resumed there, investors in the developing world — followed by fund-managers in Western countries — sent their money back to the growing economies of the global periphery.


In the Roman Empire, peripheral states developed the political and military capacity to end Roman domination by force. In the modern case, the conflict was fought through diplomatic, economic and political channels. The year of Clinton’s panegyric (
頌詞) now looks pivotal — not only for the changing capital winds, but because of what happened at that year’s World Trade Organization summit in Seattle. After decades in which they’d more or less signed off on done-and-dusted deals, delegations from some of the big developing countries got together, refused to go along and brought the negotiations to a halt. As their diplomatic and political capacity rose to match their economic heft, developing countries were now demanding, and getting, better deals.

The Third World was rising, and it quickly showed in the economic data. On the eve of the millennium, the cusp of its supremacy — a supremacy no other empire in history had come remotely close to matching — the West accounted for four-fifths of the global economy. Today, that’s down to three-fifths, and falling. The fastest-growing economies in the world are now all in the old periphery; the worst-performing economies are disproportionately in the West. These are the economic trends that have created our present landscape of superpower conflict — most saliently between America and China. A once-mighty empire is now challenged and feels embattled. Taken aback by the refusal of so many developing countries to join in isolating Russia, the West is now waking up to the reality of the emerging, polycentric and fluid global order.

These trends are only set to continue. But this is where America and Rome diverge. The Roman Empire existed at a time where there was one fixed factor of production: land. The economy was therefore necessarily steady-state and overwhelmingly agricultural. For the periphery to rise, the core had to fall, as the barbarian invaders seized physical Roman real estate. But in the modern world, where continued technological progress means economies can keep moving forward, if more slowly, decline may only need to be relative. The West can continue to grow, and to play a pre-eminent role in global governance.

But meek acceptance isn’t what builds empires in the first place. The danger is that, obsessed with past glories and tempted by a desire to turn back the clock, Western countries attempt to restore their greatness. Since its own imperial marginalisation, Britain has been possessed by a manic and counter-productive declinism, most recently responding to the 2008 crash with a programme of austerity that has sunk its economy into what may become a permanent decay. America’s interminable annual wranglings over debt ceilings could, if they continue, diminish the attractiveness of the dollar, at a time when developing countries are looking for alternatives.

The fate of the West hangs in the balance, and it must stop drawing the wrong lessons from Roman history, not the least of which is a stubborn refusal to accept a diminished role in its world. After all, the Roman Empire might have survived had it not weakened itself with wars of choice on its ascendant Persian rival. By finding a way to coexist peacefully with its own rival China, however uncomfortable that may be, the US could do itself and the world a favour.


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摩根大通分析師:人民幣終將取代美元 -- Jai Hamid
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請參見本欄上一篇(本文的《讀後》)

JPMorgan predicts China’s yuan dethroning the US’s dollar


Jai Hamid, 01/16/24

The global financial landscape is on the brink of a monumental shift, with JPMorgan throwing a spotlight on the Chinese Yuan’s potential to unseat the US Dollar from its long-held throne. This prediction isn’t just a casual remark in the world of currencies; it’s akin to forecasting a tectonic shift in the very bedrock of international trade and economics.

BRICS Bloc’s Push for De-dollarization

At the heart of this potential upheaval is the 
BRICS bloc, a coalition of emerging economies, which has been steadily chipping away at the dollar’s dominance. Their strategy? A concerted push towards de-dollarization, favoring local currencies over the ubiquitous greenback. This isn’t a subtle nudge but a bold, calculated move to redefine the rules of global finance.

The Chinese Yuan, in this grand scheme, is emerging as the poster child of this movement. It’s not just about being an alternative; it’s about being a frontrunner in a race that many didn’t even realize was on. And the statistics speak louder than words – there’s an evident spike in the Yuan’s use within the BRICS transactions, painting a clear picture of a currency on the rise.

Strategic Shifts Paving the Way for the Yuan

Enter Alexander Wise of JPMorgan, a strategist whose insights have the weight to sway opinions in financial circles. He isn’t just talking about China’s growth; he’s linking it directly to the Renminbi’s (Yuan) future as a heavyweight in the global economic arena. His views aren’t just forecasts; they’re a roadmap for how the Yuan could climb to the top.

Wise talks about a slew of strategic moves – from relaxing capital controls to boosting market liquidity – that could bolster the Yuan’s position. It’s not just about playing the game; it’s about changing it. China’s maneuvers to position its government bonds as a secure asset are also part of this master plan. It’s like watching a chess game where China is thinking several moves ahead.

The Dollar’s Uncertain Horizon

The US Dollar’s fate, in this narrative, is like a star whose light is dimming. As the Yuan’s luminescence grows, the Dollar’s glow wanes. It’s not an overnight change, but a gradual, inexorable shift. The dollar has been the bedrock of international trade for so long that imagining a world where it’s not the mainstay is both intriguing and unsettling.

And it’s not just about economics. This shift speaks volumes about geopolitical dynamics, signaling a change in how nations perceive and use currencies in the grand chessboard of global politics. The Yuan’s rise and the Dollar’s potential fall are not mere fluctuations in currency values; they are harbingers of a new era in international relations.

In essence, JPMorgan’s prediction is more than a financial forecast; it’s a narrative of change, a story of emerging powers and shifting balances. The Yuan’s ascent to potentially dethrone the Dollar is a saga that will be keenly watched and analyzed in the annals of economic history. As the world watches this unfold, one thing is clear: the currency wars are not just about money; they’re about influence, power, and the future shape of global order. The battle lines are drawn, and the world is poised to witness a financial revolution, with the Yuan leading the charge.


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《摩根大通分析師:人民幣終將取代美元》讀後
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哈密德女士這篇分析報導:摩根大通副總經理外斯先生對國際貨幣龍頭走向的展望(請見本欄下一篇)。以上她芳名的超連接引導至她在《秘密政經中心》網誌貼文的部落格;大家可以前往看看她對時下相關重大事件的評論/分析。

外斯先生認為「大金磚」國家有計畫的試圖打破美元獨領國際貨幣風騷的現況。他強調貨幣與地緣政治角力兩者間相互影響的動態關係。請參看本欄其它的評論/分析。並請對照《人民幣失去主要支柱》一文。

此外,哈密德女士多次此用「對比」、「形象化」、和「誇大其詞」等修辭技巧,在政、經評論中並不多見;值得偶一學學,增加一些可讀性和讓讀者印象深刻。

「對比」如:

It’s not just about playing the game; it’s about changing it.”

請注意 playing changing 兩字在「意思」上的差別。

「形象化」如:

“It’s not just about being an alternative; it’s about being a frontrunner in a race that many didn’t even realize was on.”

這段話中的 ”frontrunner in a race” 以「賽跑中的領頭羊」來比擬人民幣在貨幣爭鋒中的角色。

「跨大其詞」如:

“This prediction isn’t just a casual remark in the world of currencies; it’s akin to forecasting a tectonic shift in the very bedrock of international trade and economics.”

這段話中的 ”casual remark” “forecasting a tectonic shift”是「對比」。tectonic shift 在此指:地球板塊移動;它是典型的「誇大其詞」

不過,在短短500多字的文章中,她用了兩次半
it’s not just about … it’s about … ”的句型;略嫌火候不足。

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美國財長葉倫評論美元地位 -- Bethan Moorcraft
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和本欄第二篇文章美元失勢因素分析相比較以下這篇報導並沒有新的訊息或更深入分析。只是葉倫財長的身份具有權威性因此值得存檔備查


‘A natural way to diversify': Janet Yellen now says Americans should expect a decline in the USD as the world's reserve currency — what’s really going on and how can you prepare?

, 06/15/23

‘A natural way to diversify': Janet Yellen now says Americans should expect a decline in the USD as the world's reserve currency — what’s really going on and how can you prepare?

The U.S. dollar saw an 8% decline in its share of global reserves in 2022 — causing some to question whether the dollar’s days of dominance are over.

Treasury Secretary Jannet Yellen gave her two cents on the matter of so-called “de-dollarization” during a congressional hearing on Tuesday — stating that no currency currently exists that could displace the greenback.

While U.S. sanctions and foreign policy plays have inspired a backlash from China, Russia and other prominent countries — who are keen to dethrone the dollar — Yellen remains adamant that “it will not be easy for any country to devise a way to get around the dollar.

She did, however, warn that the dollar’s share of global reserves may continue to decline as countries look to “diversify.”

Here’s why the topic of de-dollarization is front and center today — and what you can do if you’re worried about the strength of the dollar.

Impact of U.S. sanctions

The dollar’s dominance in global trade and capital flows dates back at least 80 years — not just because the U.S. is the world’s largest economy, but also because oil and other essential commodities are priced in the greenback.

However, recent events — including the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes to stem domestic inflation, the trade war with China and the U.S. sanctions enforced after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — have caused more countries to call for trade to be carried out in other currencies besides the U.S. dollar.

At the 14th BRICS Summit last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced measures to create a new “international currency standard.” Meanwhile, China has been urging oil producers and major exporters to accept yuan for payments, and major oil exporter Saudi Arabia has said it’s “open” to the idea of trading other currencies.

Even long-time allies, like France, have made non-dollar transactions since the U.S. ramped up its sanctions. In April, French President Emmanuel Macron said Europe must reduce its dependence on the U.S. dollar in order to keep its “strategic autonomy” and avoid becoming “vassals” (subordinate) to America.

When quizzed on the impact of these trends in front of the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen admitted that U.S. sanctions have motivated some countries to seek out currency alternatives — but she was adamant the greenback will remain dominant.

“The dollar plays the role it does in the world financial system for very good reasons that no other country is able to replicate, including China,” she said. “We have deep liquid open financial markets, strong rule of law and an absence of capital controls that no country is able to replicate.”

The dollar as a reserve currency

When asked if the dollar’s international status is declining, Yellen said she sees “virtually no meaningful workaround for most countries for using the dollar as a reserve currency.

“We should expect over time a gradually increased share of other assets in reserve holdings of countries — a natural desire to diversify. But the dollar is far and away the dominant reserve asset.”

According to data from the IMF’s Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER), the U.S. dollar accounted for 58.36% of global foreign exchange reserves in the fourth quarter last year. In second place was the euro, accounting for about 20.5% of reserves.

Meanwhile, the Chinese yuan — which some think is the biggest threat to the dollar — accounted for just 2.7% of reserves in the same period and nearly a third of that is held by Russia, according to a 2022 IMF paper.

While de-dollarization efforts are clearly underway, most financial commentators share Yellen’s view that the dollar will retain its throne.

Eurizon SLJ Asset Management strategists published a note in April, where they acknowledged the “exceptional” decline in the dollar’s market share in 2022 due to the sanctions taken by the US and its allies against Moscow — but they added: “the dollar will likely continue to enjoy dominance as an international currency for a while longer.”

Likewise, Fitch Solutions said it doesn’t expect a “paradigm shift,” any time soon, given that there's no feasible alternative to the U.S. dollar for international trade.

(以下與主旨無關略去)

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美元失勢因素分析 – 路透社
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The end of King Dollar? The forces at play in de-dollarisation

Naomi Rovnick and Libby George, 05/25/23

LONDON (Reuters) - Rivalry with China, fallout from Russia's war in Ukraine and wrangling once again in Washington over the U.S. debt ceiling have put the dollar's status as the world's dominant currency under fresh scrutiny.

Russia's sanctions-imposed exile from global financial systems last year also fuelled speculation that non-U.S. allies would diversify away from dollars.

Below are some arguments why de-dollarisation will happen - or possibly why it won't.

SLIPPING RESERVE STATUS

The dollar share of official FX reserves (
外匯存底) fell to a 20-year low of 58% in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to International Monetary Fund data.

Stephen Jen, CEO of Eurizon SLJ Capital Limited, said that shift was more pronounced when adjusted for exchange rate.

"What happened in 2022 was a very sharp plummeting in the dollar share in real-terms," Jen said, adding this was a reaction to the freezing of half of Russia's $640 billion in gold and FX reserves following its 2022 invasion of Ukraine. This had sparked a re-think in countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, India and Turkey about diversifying to other currencies.

TAKING THE LONGER VIEW

The dollar share of central banks' foreign reserves in the final quarter of 2022 did hit a two-decade low, but the move has been gradual and it is now at almost a similar level as 1995.

Central banks put rainy day funds in dollars in case they need to prop up exchange rates during economic crises. If a currency weakens too far against the dollar, oil and other commodities traded in the U.S. currency become expensive, raising living costs and fuelling inflation.

Many currencies, from the Hong Kong dollar to the Panama balboa, are pegged against the dollar for similar reasons.

WANING GRIP ON COMMODITIES

The almighty dollar has had a lock on commodity trading, allowing Washington to hinder market access for producer nations from Russia to Venezuela and Iran.

But trade is shifting. India is purchasing Russian oil in UAE dirham and roubles. China switched to the yuan to buy some $88 billion worth of Russian oil, coal and metals. Chinese national oil company CNOOC and France's TotalEnergies completed their first yuan-settled LNG trade in March.

After Russia, nations are questioning "what if you fall on the wrong side of sanctions?" said BNY Mellon strategist Geoffrey Yu.

The yuan's share of global over-the-counter forex transactions rose from almost nothing 15 years ago to 7%, according to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

BUT TOO COMPLEX A SYSTEM

De-dollarisation would require a vast and complex network of exporters, importers, currency traders, debt issuers and lenders to independently decide to use other currencies. Unlikely.

The dollar is on one side of almost 90% of global forex transactions, representing about $6.6 trillion in 2022, according to BIS data.

About half of all offshore debt is in dollars, the BIS said, and half of all global trade is invoiced in dollars.

The dollar's functions "all reinforce each other", said Berkeley economics and political science professor Barry Eichengreen.

"There just isn't a mechanism for getting banks and firms and governments all to change their behaviours at the same time."

A FRAGMENTED FUTURE

While there may not be a single dollar successor, mushrooming alternatives could create a multipolar world.

BNY Mellon's Yu said nations were realizing that one or two dominant reserve asset blocks was "just not diversified enough."

Global central banks are looking at a wider variety of assets, including corporate debt, tangible assets such as real estate, and other currencies.

"This is the process that is underway," said Mark Tinker, managing director of Toscafund Hong Kong. "The dollar is going to be used less in the global system."

AN UNSHAKEABLE BASIS

Because large bank deposits are not always insured, businesses use government bonds as a cash alternative. The dollar's status is therefore underpinned by the $23 trillion U.S. Treasury market - viewed as a safe haven for money.

"The depth, liquidity and safety of the Treasury market is a big reason why the dollar is a leading reserve currency," said Brad Setser, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow who tracks cross-border currency flows.

International holdings of Treasuries are vast and there's no credible alternative yet. Germany's bond market is relatively small, at just over $2 trillion.

Commodities producers may agree to trade with China in yuan, but recycling cash into Chinese government bonds remains tricky due to difficulties opening accounts and regulatory uncertainty.

"But you can hop on an app and trade Treasuries from anywhere," Natwest Markets emerging markets strategist Galvin Chia said.

($1 = 6.9121 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Naomi Rovnick and Libby George, editing by Karin Strohecker and Alex Richardson)


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