Taking out the US dollar, BRICS by BRICS
Part of the great devolution of American power is not just related to depletion of military stores and the lack of enlistments for the service, but also our economic power. The latest monetary threat is coming from both East and West and may be the coup de grâce for the U.S. dollar, which has long been the dominant global currency for international financial transactions.
A number of the world's major players want to move away from U.S. currency and are working toward creating a new global currency. You might not have heard of the BRICS alliance. It consists of China, Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa. Reports suggest that they are cooperating to reduce their dependence on the U.S. by developing their own currency for trade among "friendly nations." Their ties are getting stronger: near-historic levels of trade are occurring between India and Russia. Brazil has become more and more dependent on Russian fertilizer.
"New Delhi, Beijing and Moscow are the nations that now institute a multipolar world that is endorsed by the majority of governments," a Russian official said. The aim is to replace not only the U.S. dollar, but also the euro in trade transactions.
In 2014, with $50 billion in seed money, the BRICS nations launched the New Development Bank as an alternative to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It has proven attractive to developing and emerging economies that had had painful experiences with the IMF's programs and austerity measures.
This initiative is a serious concern for American interests. The countries in the BRICS alliance have a combined population of 3.1 billion. That's about 40% of the world's population and 20% of the world gross domestic product (GDP). China is positioned to be BRIC's de facto leader.
If the proposed BRICS currency manages to replace the U.S. dollar, there would be several potential consequences, which include the following.
- Weakened U.S. economic and geopolitical power: If the U.S. dollar were no longer the global currency, the U.S. would lose much of its influence over the global financial system, which would weaken its standing in the world.
- Increase the dollar's volatility: The U.S. dollar's status as the global currency helps to stabilize the world's financial system. If it were to no longer hold this role, there could be an increase in volatility as investors and banks contend with different currencies battling for dominance.
- Impact on international trade: If the U.S. dollar were no longer the global currency, international trade would become more complex and expensive. Countries may have to engage in currency swaps or use multiple currencies in their transactions.
The Biden administration's main tool to dissuade the world's bad actors from acting on their baser instincts has been economic sanctions. A shift away from the U.S. dollar would cost the nation much of its dominance on the world stage and lessen the impact of such sanctions. Without the ability to exert economic pressure on other countries, the downward spiral of Biden's America would be hastened.
The BRICS group is also in the market to expand. South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor characterized the interest in joining as "huge." She indicated that nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Argentina, and others are considering taking part.
The danger from BRICS is not only financial. There seems to be political alignment as well. Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, BRICS countries have distanced themselves from the West. India, Brazil, South Africa, and China oppose sanctions against Russia.
The consequences of the U.S. dollar losing global currency status may be difficult to predict, but face it: it's not a good thing. Can we do anything to stop it? The demand for the dollar increases when foreign citizens, foreign central banks, and foreign financial institutions require it. There is little the Biden administration is doing that increases that demand or instills confidence in the United States as the guardian of the free world. If the current administration remains in place, I doubt very much that America will remain the dominant economic power.
Joe Alton, M.D. is a physician, medical preparedness advocate, and N.Y. Times bestselling author of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help Is Not on the Way and other books.
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