Earlier this month, we reported a move by China that could foreshadow the end of the US dollar as the world reserve currency. The Chinese announced the launch of a gold-backed, yuan-denominated oil futures contract. The move potentially creates a way for oil exporters to circumvent US dollar denominated benchmarks by trading in yuan. The contracts will be priced in yuan, but convertible to gold.
More broadly speaking, Russia and China seem to be setting the stage to set up an alternative the international US dollar system. Many analysts believe the two countries are buying gold specifically to minimize their dependence on the US dollar. Russia and China are also reportedly moving closer to developing a broader gold-based trading system.
In an article originally published on the Mises Wire, Ronald-Peter Stöferle digs deeper into the possibility of “de-dollarization.”
The world is looking for alternatives to the dollar — and finds them more and more often.”
Earlier this month, the US threatened to lock China out of the dollar system if it doesn’t follow UN sanctions on North Korea. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin threatened this economic nuclear option during a conference broadcast on CNBC.
If China doesn’t follow these sanctions, we will put additional sanctions on them and prevent them from accessing the US and international dollar system, and that’s quite meaningful.”
The threat may be meaningful, but it also might be empty.
Russia and China seem to be betting their monetary futures on gold. Their long-term maneuverings could seriously undermine the dominance of the US dollar and shift the world’s economic center of power from West to East.
Russia and China buy more gold than any other countries in the world, with Russia leading the way. Over the last decade, the the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has added more than 1,250 tons of gold to its reserves, according to the World Gold Council. At 1,700 tons, Russia’s has the sixth largest gold reserves in the world. Russian gold makes up about 17% of the nation’s wealth.
In 2016 alone, the Russian central bank purchased 201 tons of gold, far more than any other central bank in the world. The People’s Bank of China ranked second, adding 80 tons to its reserves.