Friday, October 23, 2009

More on the Dollar

From Barry Eichengreen:
[T]he dollar isn’t going anywhere. It is not about to be replaced by the euro or the yen, given that both Europe and Japan have serious economic problems of their own. The renminbi is coming, but not before 2020, by which time Shanghai will have become a first-class international financial centre. And, even then, the renminbi will presumably share the international stage with the dollar, not replace it.
From David Lynch:

In the short run, the only currency that could challenge the dollar is the euro... But for all its attractions, the euro lacks some essential attributes. Although the European Union has a central bank, comparable to the Federal Reserve, there is no European treasury. Instead, there are 27 European treasuries. Investors can't easily track or influence fiscal policy on the continent.

The dollar is also buoyed by the existence of a massive government bond market. There's roughly $4 trillion worth of U.S. Treasuries floating around, and almost $100 billion changes hands each day, according to investment management firm Pimco. Trading that's carried on almost 24 hours a day, rolling east to west from Tokyo to London to New York, makes it easy to move into and out of dollar positions in a hurry.

Europe, by contrast, has no analogue to the U.S. Treasury market. Instead there is a fragmented scene with individual sovereign debt from Germany, Italy, France and other EU members. No individual market enjoys anything like Treasuries' liquidity and size.


There's another potential dollar rival on the horizon, though its day likely lies a decade or more in the future... But before it does, China will have to thoroughly overhaul its existing financial system. Today, the yuan isn't freely convertible into other currencies, and there are strict limits on the cross-border movement of the Chinese currency. Chinese officials publicly have committed themselves to freeing the yuan to float alongside the dollar, euro, yen and other major currencies. That change, however, won't happen overnight.

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