Countdown to the Collapse
BY JOHN BUTLER
On multiple fronts there appears to have been a resumption of hostilities in the global currency wars. A subtle indication of this is the recently released report, Gold, the Renminbi and the Multi-Currency Reserve System, which I believe is highly significant for two reasons: First, it demonstrates that major global actors are now keenly aware and frightened of the possibility of a major breakdown in international monetary relations. Second, it suggests that these same actors are trying to contain the growing demand for gold as an alternative reserve asset and pre-empt an uncontrolled gold remonetization. These efforts will fail. A collapse of the current, unstable global monetary equilibrium is inevitable. Recent events indicate that the countdown has begun.
Breaking the Cease-Fire
Curiously, in the second half of 2011 and through most of 2012, notwithstanding the escalating euro-crisis, US ratings downgrade, Japan’s protracted nuclear disaster and sharply divergent global growth rates, there was surprisingly little volatility in foreign exchange markets. EUR/USD traded mostly in the historically narrow range of 1.40-1.25. USD/JPY was in a range of from 76-82. The Chinese renminbi held between 6.4 and 6.2. GBP/USD moved within 1.54-162. The Swiss franc was also steady at around 1.20 versus the euro, although this was the result of an explicit Swiss policy of capping the franc at that level.
In retrospect, it appears that this period was characterised by a general ‘cease-fire’ in the global currency wars ignited by the global financial crisis of 2008. Rather than attempt directly to devalue currencies to stimulate exports at trading partners’ expense, the focus during this period was primarily on measures to support domestic demand.