US top ally Israel has started process of adopting China’s yuan as foreign exchange asset. Writes Drago Bosnic
Dedollarization has been in the works for almost a decade now. Still, most global talk about it has often been speculation and wishful thinking. However, since the Ukrainian crisis escalated in February with the Kiev regime’s attack on Donbass being preempted by Russia’s military operation and the ensuing sanctions, dedollarization has reached a whole new level. Ironically, it wasn’t pushed by Russia, but by the country which prints the dollar – The United States of America itself.
By impounding Russian foreign exchange reserves outside of Russia’s direct control, projected to be anywhere between $300 and $400 billion out of $630 billion total, the US and the political West have deeply undermined the trust most other countries had in the US currency. In essence, taking these assets is tantamount to theft.
In doing so, the US has pushed other countries to at least start considering an opt-out of investing in US sovereign debt, which might make America’s ability to service its massive debt nearly impossible without printing more money. This, however, is a nonsolution, as it would only further push America’s galloping inflation, because the US has already printed up to a staggering 80% of all US dollars in circulation in less than 2 years, resulting in the so-called “Putin’s price hike”.
Exacerbating this problem is the fact that major US allies and satellite states have started distancing themselves from their financially beleaguered overlord. In a shocking, never-before-seen move, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has accepted the Chinese yuan as payment for Saudi oil. This sent shockwaves across the world, causing many others to reconsider their position on the US currency.
The US-Saudi deal has been shaping the world for nearly half a century now, as the US guaranteed military protection to Saudi Arabia and in return, the Saudis would price their oil exclusively in US dollars. In other words, the Saudis were to refuse all other currencies except the U.S. dollar. This arrangement has now effectively ended.
Other US allies and satellites have also been divided on the issue, but mostly decided to tread carefully in their approach to the situation. However, in another major blow to the collapsing US dominance, Israel decided to join this tectonic geoeconomic and geopolitical shift by adopting China’s yuan as one of its reserve currencies.
On 22 April, Israel’s Central Bank announced it will add yuan while slashing its dollar and euro holdings in a move to “diversify its reserve allocations” and “lengthen its investment horizon”.
“We need to look at the need to earn a return on the reserves that will cover the costs of the liability,” Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel, Andrew Abir, said in an interview.
In addition to the yuan, the bank will also add the Canadian and Australian dollar, signaling a shift in the bank’s “whole investment guidelines and philosophy,” Abir said. Previously, the bank only held US dollars, euros, and the British pound. In doing so, the country will cut back on the USD share in its foreign exchange reserve, further undermining what, until recently, was the unrivaled world’s main reserve currency.
Moving forward, the yuan will take up 2% of the Israeli Central Bank’s reserves, and both the Canadian and Australian dollar will have 3.5% respectively, according to the bank’s annual report. The new additions mean the euro’s share will fall from 30% to 20%, while the USD will be reduced to 61%, down from 66.5% the bank held last year. According to the IMF, the USD’s share of total global currency reserves has fallen to its lowest point in over two decades.
With China’s economy being heavily production and export-oriented, the country has long pushed for the yuan to supplant the USD as the world’s reserve currency. The rash decision to weaponize the USD against Russia is bringing tectonic changes in the world economy, many experts agree. The political West’s sanctions against Russia have been a wake-up call for countries seeking to reduce their exposure to the USD, as economist Aleksandar Tomic previously told the Business Insider.
“Challenges to the dollar have come before, but none have taken hold because when things turn volatile, the US tends to be stable, so the dollar persists,” Tomic said.
This has changed completely now. In previous decades, trying to get rid of the USD has proven to be not just dangerous, but outright deadly, as the world was able to see in the bloody experience countries such as Iraq and Libya suffered. As soon as independent countries even thought about exporting their goods and resources in currencies other than the USD, “human rights” and “free and fair election” issues would spring up, which the US and its allies/satellites would then be “forced to resolve” through yet another “humanitarian intervention”. Saddam Hussein’s attempt to sell Iraqi oil in euros or Muammar Gaddafi’s attempt to establish a pan-African gold-backed currency resulted in the destruction of both countries at the hands of “freedom and democracy”.
When Russia started the same process in 2014, escalating it further in March of this year, the US was fuming. The ensuing sanctions failed to produce the desired effect, while any Iraq or Libya-style military action against Russia would be “problematic”, to say the least, even in the context of the military operation in Ukraine. Given the Eurasian giant’s over 6000-strong stockpile of thermonuclear weapons, the largest in the world, in addition to Russia’s massive conventional military, the hands of the political West are tied.
However, the situation in which dozens of other countries are joining the dedollarization effort is a geopolitical nightmare for the US. After the humiliating Afghanistan defeat at the hands of the Taliban, especially the chaotic Saigon-style escape from Kabul, the world sees the US lacks the conventional military power projection it had 10-15 years ago. Thus, the world has decided to move on and start offboarding the sinking ship of Pax Americana.
Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst.
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