While the Federal Reserve continues to downplay inflation in the US, insisting that it is “transitory,” the Bank of Russia has gone to war with rising prices. Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina says she sees “persistent factors” to inflation, and on Friday, the Russian Central bank hiked interest rates by 100 basis points to 6.5%.
In a statement, the Bank of Russia said, “The contribution of persistent factors to inflation increased due to faster growth of demand compared to output expansion capacity.”
Last week, Russia announced plans to completely eliminate dollars and dollar-denominated assets from its sovereign wealth fund. Is this another sign of erosion of dollar dominance?
The news from Russia dovetails with a warning by billionaire fund manager Stanley Druckenmiller that the dollar could cease to be the world’s reserve currency within the next 15 years.
Last week, we reported that the Russian National Wealth fund was dumping dollars and turning toward gold. The Russians have engaged in an intentional de-dollarization policy for several years. But it appears this could be part of a broader global move away from the greenback.
The dollar’s share of global currency reserves dropped significantly in the fourth quarter of 2020, falling to its lowest level in 25 years according to recently released IMF data. Globally, the dollar now makes up just 54% of global currency reserves. The last time the greenback’s share was this low was in 1995.
For the first time ever, Russia holds more gold than US dollars.
According to a Central Bank of Russia report published this week and analyzed by Bloomberg, gold made up 23% of the Central Bank of Russia’s reserves as of the end of June. The bank’s share of dollar assets dropped to 22%. In 2018, more than 40% of Russian reserves were in dollars.
Russia’s second-largest bank is betting on gold to boost profits in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic slowdown.
According to a Bloomberg report, VTB Bank has prioritized gold trading in addition to lending to gold mining companies.
Global de-dollarization resumed in the second quarter according to data recently released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
While the dollar share of global reserves increased in the first quarter of 2020, it fell sharply in Q2, resuming a more than two-year trend downward.
Central bank gold-buying is expected to ramp up again in 2021 with Russia and China possibly entering back into the market.
Citigroup and HSBC Securities both expect an increase in central bank gold purchases next year after a drop-off in 2020.
The pace has slowed somewhat this year, but central banks are still buying gold, and the World Gold Council expects central bank demand to continue over the next 12 months.
In April, central banks globally added another net 31.6 tons of gold to their reserves, despite Russia following through on its commitment to suspend its buying program.
China has accumulated more than 100 tons of gold since it resumed buying the yellow metal last December in a quest to diversify its reserves away from the US dollar.
The People’s Bank of China added another 5.9 tons of gold to its hoard in September, according to data on its website reported by Bloomberg. It was the 10th straight month of gold-buying for the Chinese central bank and it added to the 99.8 tons accumulated during the prior nine months.