Crack on US dollar hegemony is growing
Published: May 28, 2021 12:24 AM
Dollars vs Euro.File Photo:VCG


The ambitious infrastructure plan of the US President Joe Biden was downsized, from the original $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion, which apparently is still not enough to gather support from the Republicans. Many American economists criticize that the Federal Reserve has run out of options after pouring money in the market and inflation hitting very high levels.

Meanwhile there are numerous data that suggest that the status of the US dollar as a reserve currency around the world is being weakened by the euro, Japan's yen and China's yuan. The deadly COVID-19 pandemic also intensified the decline of US dollar hegemony.

As indicated by the IMF, the share of euro reserves held by global central banks stood at 21 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, the same level as six years before; while the share of US dollar dropped to 59 percent, the lowest level in 25 years.

International financial institutions are voting with their feet, alleging that the US is deceiving the world with its dollar and living a "rich and rich alone" life by devaluing its currency and borrowing without limit.

The unrestrained borrowing from the US government, together with Federal Reserve's unlimited quantitative easing measures, have directly caused the irrational soaring prices of international commodities, especially copper, aluminum and iron ore among other commodities for which China has been the biggest buyer. However, the economic common sense tells us that the global economy has been hit by the coronavirus for over a year and the fundamentals simply do not support a cyclical commodity price boom.

The increasing cost of raw materials will only mount more pressure on the living standards of the low to middle-income classes in the world.

The rising price of commodities is a financial phenomenon caused by the excessive dollar stimulus but the impact on the real economy has already been evidenced in increasing manufacturing costs around the world.

On the other hand, the pandemic has caused a reduction on people's income. With a slow recovery in consumption, manufacturers have lost bargaining advantages down the supply chain. Instead of shifting the cost pressure of rising commodity prices to consumers, they might have to bear the loss.

As the real economy is undermined by the hegemony of the US dollar, insightful politicians and businessmen from all over the world have started to discuss how to crack the hegemony of the US dollar.

China's yuan has been a major "driving currency" that has boosted the growth of global economy over three decades. However, its share as a foreign exchange reserve in the world has just exceeded 2 percent. Cracking the monopoly of the US dollar cannot depend mainly on the Chinese yuan but its potential cannot be underestimated as it recorded the highest strategic growth in foreign exchange reserves in the 21st century, in addition to the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from the IMF. 

World economies are looking forward to a new global monetary order that is impartial and reflects supply and demand in the real economy. Only the US is still expecting to benefit from a currency war in the 21st century while the rest of the world is looking to make money a neutral instrument for trade, rather than relying on monetary signals to guide or dominate the economy.

The pandemic has accelerated this trend. The IMF decided to issue $650 billion SDR in April, to aid developing countries during financial crisis. The world is entering the post-COVID era with a high probability that certain countries may suffer currency crises similar to those in 1997 and 2011. This requires central banks around the world to fully support the IMF through monetary policy coordination to help stabilize global economic recovery.

The US will never give up the hegemonic system of the dollar easily and will block financial cooperation among countries through various means. World economies should firmly promote mutually beneficial opening-up of financial markets and enhance currency swap agreements between central banks. Through economic globalization, the dollar hegemony can be broken.

The article was compiled based on a commentary written by Xu Weihong, Chief Economist at Yongxing Securities.