26 June 2015

China, World Reserve Currencies, the SDR, and an Emerging 'Gold Standard'

“Gold has worked down from Alexander's time. When something holds good for two thousand years I do not believe it can be so because of prejudice or mistaken theory.”

Bernard M. Baruch

I thought this was interesting, particularly given the source of the interview at Bloomberg News.

It is short and so a little bit of a light touch perhaps, but a nice overview nonetheless.
One little point of fact I would raise is that the comparison of China M2 and the US M2 is not the whole story.  Since China is not a particularly international currency their M2 is probably a significant subset of their overall issuance. 
But in the case of the US, M2 does not account for 'eurodollars', which the Fed intentionally stopped tracking some years ago 'to save money' and thereby stopped issuing M3 figures.  This is a significant factor for the world's reserve currency as you might imagine, and a glaring omission in the validityof the comparison.

A key factor would be their price peg mechanism vis a vis the dollar, and any redeemability features.

They must approach this carefully, because the Anglo-American Banks and Funds will be using every trick of the trade if the yuan becomes less restricted, whether it is tied to gold or not.  
If they price it too cheaply, and the gold is redeemable, I can see the great flow of gold from West to East reversing to fill the pockets of the naked shorts.

But if they price it too highly, they cold do some damage to the value of their currency for international trade. I am not saying that they can't do it. And I do see them taking many of the steps required to do this sort of things well.
The inclusion of China as a reserve currency for global trade and the SDR has been a bubbling issue for a while.
The kind of 'pure fiat regime' we have had in place since 1971 is an historical secular event compared to the great stretch of monetary history. Typically the valuation of an enduring, widely used currency is tied to something external that disciplines its creation. 

But that is history, and our new masters of the universe are beyond the limits of human nature, like gods unrestrained, at least in their own minds and theories.

I should add again that I am not so sure about the power and reach of a gold standard at this point, given the exceptionally fraudulent and distorted nature of the financial system and the devious natures of unreformed, felonious denizens. 
Moral hazard is the rule of the day and the intentional mispricing of risk almost a benchmark.  I am sure the global financiers are already planning on how exploit such a development in their paper markets.
Our economists and bankers may have their faults, but they are the Michael Jordans of financial fraud.