New world order

China proposes a new world reserve currency to replace the dollar and, it hopes, launch a new era of global monetary stability. In a paper released Monday in Beijing, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan wrote:

Theoretically, an international reserve currency should first be anchored to a stable benchmark and issued according to a clear set of rules, therefore to ensure orderly supply; second, its supply should be flexible enough to allow timely adjustment according to the changing demand; third, such adjustments should be disconnected from economic conditions and sovereign interests of any single country. The acceptance of credit-based national currencies as major international reserve currencies, as is the case in the current system, is a rare special case in history. The crisis again calls for creative reform of the existing international monetary system towards an international reserve currency with a stable value, rule-based issuance and manageable supply, so as to achieve the objective of safeguarding global economic and financial stability.

It’s an interesting concept, and as I contemplate the proposal I’ll air my praise and criticisms. I’m initially skeptical of a single IMF-managed currency and of Zhou’s suggestion that this will allow nations more flexibility in their own monetary policies. Hyperflexible monetary policies, especially in the U.S., were the source of the problem. But it’s too bad we ever arrived at this point. If the U.S. had better managed the stability of the existing world reserve currency — the dollar — there would be no need for a new “super-sovereign” currency. We had a good thing going, and we blew it.

I’ve written lots about the dollar and its nexus with China (here, here, here, and here).

Comments are closed.