Europe’s Been Onto Something … While the US gently weeps
The EU region calling for a ‘G8 + India & China’ conference to thrash out this global monetary issue - and has been twisting the knife in the reluctant US side. The US has been dragging its feet. While the EU has been going gung-ho on this, the US has been floating many trial balloons.
Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers have been co-opted by the President-elect of the US - Barack Obama. There has been talk of a manipulation in bullion prices - which may be required for re-anchoring currencies. Interesting deals - considered impossible till a few years, are being done in a tearing hurry.
Europe would obviously like to break the dollar hegemony - and muscle into the racket. They know the Third World-Russia-China are not prepared.
And what do Europeans want - some seats at the global regulatory table, to force US moneybags to seek approvals, which will come at a cost … or is that the approvals will come at a price …
Which will solve no one’s problems … back to square one …
The US Gameplan
US analysts, led by Paul Krugman, have been calling for Barack Obama to emulate Roosevelt - who waded into WW2, with 25,000 tons of nationalized gold. If gold is nationalized, it may depress demand in the short term - giving rise to huge volatility in gold prices. But Warren Buffett has been on the silver bandwagon for a while - and that is making the gold-silver equation hazy. What if Warren Buffet becomes the new US Treasury Chief? There is the real risk of another fraud like the gold standard happening all over again.
The US has been making its moves - differently. Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize is an indication of this. Will the US use Paul Krugman as the Keynes of the Bretton Woods. The background of Bretton Woods itself, is of course, something that the US and Europe do not want the world at large to know.
What Has Been India Upto? Either … or …
India seems to completely lack direction on how to move independently in times like these. After, all why should India even look at IMF and World Bank - which are fig leaf organizations of the West, as transfer mechanisms of wealth from the Third World to the rich.
Or India is working on a different plan, of which we know nothing. After all, India does believe in moving steadily (even, if slowly).
While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving. Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in the last 60 days - the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement - and now his three Asian nation visits.
India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. Am I reading too much into this? At times, India has seemed clueless.
India is unlikely to get seriously affected by the current crisis - which is possibly creating complacency in India about what needs to be done.
Russia and China - The DragoBear Dance
The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars - and what does China do with this? Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago - with a nearly US$400 billion reserves - flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil - and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate.
This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much. Russia and China can be the party poopers - but they cannot be the life of the party. Russia and China as significant military powers as well as a part of P5, will want their pound of flesh. They will, of course, be afraid of being left out!
US and EU have their own reserve currencies - leaving Russia and China out in the open. Russia and China (as full P5 powers) will want a ‘lion’s share’ of influence in any new architecture. Which any Third World grouping will not give.
The US will not have them and the EU does not want them!
China says the US has plundered the world
The US has been evading transparency by not revealing M3 figures (on dubious grounds), printing money 24×7x365 and creating toxic assets. Now when the muck has hit the fan, they are acting coy. And this made the Chinese very angry.
China has alleged that the US has plundered the world - and is is now looking after its own. China alleges that the US is not bothered about the problems the US has created for other countries.
Late In the day, Mr.Hu … This is something that the world has been talking about for a long time. China has been a major supporter (and victim) of this scam - by allowing US companies unlimited access and support. Chinese citizens have been duped with low paying jobs at these enterprises.
Is China forgetting history … Mr.Hu - Today it is the US - but yesterday, it was Europe, Mr.Hu. Europe was blockaded by the US for the last 100 years - and hence, European loot is possibly forgotten in China. European loot was accompanied by a lot of bloodshed and killing also, Mr.Hu.
Has the Leopard Changed its spots Possibly, you dont know, Mr.Hu, because China has very little wildlife left. Leopards dont change their spots. Europe behaves today, because it has no options.
China is making common cause with EU over the dollar crisis. While Chinese disappointment is understandable, their actions are beyond comprehension. Just why will Europeans be bothered about Chinese welfare? Just look at their history!!
For that matter why in the world would anyone be interested in Chinese welfare - except the Chinese, of course. The Chinese Government is looking at all options - except Chinese welfare, unfortunately.
The answers A new currency floated by the five major economies who are most affected today - China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa. Maybe Japan will also join in. But, the answer, Mr.Hu is with these 5 - and not Europe.
Japan + ASEAN
China-leaning Lee Kuan Yew with an Islamic Malaysia may not be very hot about ‘giving so much influence’ to a ‘new member’ like India for an ASEAN initiative. Any action which hurts the US, their largest market and patron, will be something that will make Japan and ASEAN hesitate. The very economic model of ASEAN + Japan is undervalued currency + exports to the USA. Hence, they will be wary of any initiative that affects the USA - and the West.
Status Quo …
And that is why South Africa and Brazil are essential for India. China and Russia must join in. The benefits are too obvious - and the fallout is non-existent!
The New 5 - Three Horsemen Of Apocalypse
The real action will be 5 countries - Russia and China on one hand - and India, South Africa and Brazil on the other.
The G3 (i.e. India, South Africa and Brazil) have functioning democracies, decent regulatory systems (which can be ramped up), the technology platforms, the trading systems, a vibrant entrepreneurial class - all of which is powering their economies forward. What they don’t have is P5 status - which is useful, though not essential.
This Washington meeting - Contours Of The Deal
During the con-fab, ‘committees will be set up’ which create mechanisms for this management. The EU-USA-Asia may agree on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a Dollar-Euro currency regime. Some of Asia may want to cling to this dollar-euro skirt.
But what is required is a Third reserve currency for the Third World.
The new currency may an Asian-Developing world currency. The big issue for the developing world will be obtaining assurances against predatory raids by the dollar bloc and the Euro-zone to dismantle any new system - like the alleged plot of 1997 Asian crisis.The lesser issues will also be inter-bank settlements, anchoring currencies (the role of gold or bullion).
Following is a 2ndlook at the how the Third currency option will work.
The Organization - The 3rd currency Option
Q: Who will handle this currency?
A: The BRIX Reserve Organization will be a the global body which will manage the operations of the BRIX currency. This organization will have initially shareholding by the BRICS countries - equally.
Q: What will happen when new shareholders come in?
A: The promoter shareholders will (later) offer shareholding to other countries to the extent of minimum 1% of total capital and not exceeding 5%. The promoter countries will gradually reduce their shareholding proportionately and equally by inducting other shareholders or selling existing shareholding to new shareholders.
Q: What will be the capital contribution by member countries?
Member countries will contribute to capital equal to 4000 tons of gold. Capital to increase by addition of new members and/or existing members. In case of exchange rate fluctuations, exchange rate will be based on 90 days average. In case of any significant decline in exchange value, concerned member country to make good the shortfall in capital contribution or face shift in member status.
Over the next 10 years, the
Q: What will be the role of gold in BRIX-BRO system?
A:All citizens of member countries will be allowed to own and trade in gold - within and outside the country during peacetime. In cases of national emergencies, countries may impose export restrictions for a limited defined period.
Governments will not be required to maintain any gold balances at all.
Q: What will be the role of BRO?
A: Firstly to provide a real time trading platform - for all the national currencies of member banks and countries. Additionally, there can be 'permitted' currencies' - like the Dollar and the Euro, for trading in non-member currencies.
It will also provide a real time settlement system , whereby participating members will be allowed to nett off transactions.This body must also approve for 'standard packages' for over-the-counter (OTC) trading of derivative products.
Q: How will BRO make money?
A: The Realtime Settlement System (RSS) will earn fees through transaction fees and earnings from float - which currently is used by the US and ECB. Individual countries based on trade and production patterns can expand or contract currency supply. Based on supply and demand for individual currency, the RSS will aid the price discovery and setting. National Central Banks will be able to borrow or lend BRIX through the BRO.
Q: Who will man the BRO?
A: Banking specialists will be deputed from (initially, founder) member countries in equal proportion at each level in the organization. Over a period of time, the BRO will build it own cadre of banking specialists - starting with entry level candidates.
Q: What will the currency be called?
A: Initially, the start up name of the currency unit can be called BRIX.
Q: How will the BRIX currency look like?
A: The BRIX currency will only exist in bank accounts. It will not be printed, circulated physically or stored in vaults.
Q: What will happen to current US$-Euro reserves?
A: Initially all dollar reserves will be used to facilitate trade between member and non-member countries. The BRO will maintain dollar /Euro reserves equal to 3 months requirements for member countries. Excess dollar reserves of member countries will drawn down gradually over 12-36 months based on market developments.
Q: How will monetary expansion of the BRIX be handled?
A: All monetary expansion of the BRO will happen through trade volumes and capital infusions. The BRO cannot print, monetize, expand money supply.
The Mechanics and Operations
Q: How will exchange rates be determined?
A: Demand and supply for currencies will determine exchange rates. Output of products, services, will create supply and demand for various currencies.
Q: Who will be allowed to trade on the RSS?
A: National currencies will be traded on electronic platforms with accredited traders, backed by institutional settlement system, trade guarantee - based on demand and supply for various national currencies.
Q: What changes will countries need to make?
A: Very few. All transactions must be linked to the index currency - the BRIX. No country will be required to change from their current currency system. As trades happen, a BRIX amount will be created. As the payout happens, that many BRIX will be extinguished.
Q: What reserve requirements will be imposed on member countries?
A: All countries will be required to maintain a reserve of 1 month's BRIX usage with the BRO. This amount will earn interest rate at market determined rates.
Q: What happens when countries go through emergencies, catastrophes or calamities?
A: In case of extreme volatility in any currency due to currency /economic /natural disaster, the BRO Board of Governors may approve loans - which will be guaranteed by the donor central banks. Loans by BRO will at all times will be covered by guarantees.
National central banks may guarantee only 'interest' payments or 'interest+principal' amounts. In case of normal commercial loans, the principal and interest repayments can be a commercial credit decision by the BRO.
Q: How will countries maintain their foreign currency reserves?
A: Countries will need to maintain minimal BRIX reserves. BRIX will be fully convertible into other currencies. However, since all national currencies will be convertible, the need will be minimal.
Q: What will be the disclosures and information requirements?
A: BRO will collate, circulate and publish information given by all member Governments regarding M3, currency, etc.
Safety, Checks & Balances
Q: What will happen when a 'rouge' Government prints too much money?
A: Whenever, exchange rate volatility exceeds the prescribed bands, BRO will impose trade restrictions after due enquiry.
Q: What about predatory currency traders?
A: Since, BRIX cannot be bought except by creating business trade, there cannot be large holdings of BRIX which can be used for predatory activities. National currencies of member countries can be at risk if excessive monetization. But, since, trading in all currencies will happen continuously, excessive monetization will first come to light in terms of excess supply and deterioration in exchange rates.
Q: What about fake currency?
A: The BRO will have its own mint and currency printing units which will print currencies for member countries. This will ensure that malafide, fake currency by foreign agencies, criminal elements will be eliminated. The BRO may also insist that weak economies print their currency at the BRO mint to ensure that there is transparency in money supply.
Q: What about trade in Government debt and securities?
A: All member countries will be required to intimate and route transactions of Government debt, securities through the RSS. This will ensure that there will be complete transparency in debt, M3, etc.