17 May 2012

Devaluing the Dollar - Against What?

When people talk about devaluing the dollar, as opposed to reissuing it completely, the natural question is, against what? What would one devalue it against officially if you do not wish to reinstitute a formal gold standard, which is clearly the preference of the Western central bank.

One likely candidate might be the SDR issued as a new currency for global trade, and for the pricing of international goods and commodities.

The major bone of contention as I have pointed out before would be the new 'basis' for the SDR. What Will the World's Reserve Currency Become?  The BRICs are adamant for the inclusion of additional currencies and gold and silver to make a portfolio that is less weighted to the US, Europe, and England.

A country would have the option to retain their own national currency for domestic use.

This is regards to devaluation as opposed to a hyperinflation and reissuance in which case old dollars would be scrapped for 'new dollars' with a couple of zeroes knocked off.

A friend sent this information about the US Post Office my way today. The speculation on the 'new composition' of the SDR is mine. I am assuming that the number of Euro countries decreases.

The US Post Office is using US$ to SDR conversion tables for international mail insurance --> US Postal Service US$ to SDR Policy and Tables

Earliest reference I could find to when the USPS started pricing in SDRs is 2009, which is well after the initial financial crisis.

IMF publishes daily tables on SDR values--> IMF SDR Daily Tables

Quick calc: at today's SDR rate of 1.52 SDR to 1 US$, if a new global dollar like currency was issued, then a current $1 US would buy you 66 cents of that new currency.

This is about a 34% drop in the $ value.

And that is probably best case scenario, since the daily SDR rate is priced
relative to 3 other currencies. If the US$ were to take a pounding prior to
issuance of a new currency, the exchange rate would be even less favorable to $ holders.

Summary: The pricing mechanism for replacing the greenback is in place. As
your anxiety level rises on the $, feel free to check daily to see what your bank deposits would be worth after a bank "holiday".