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Is The End Nigh For The Dollar As World Reserve Currency?

The emergence of Bitcoin opened a Pandora's Box, spawning a variety of crypto and digital currencies that are now threatening the global financial order.

As the world's reserve currency, the dollar is central to global financial markets as well as an important leverage tool for the US in shaping and influencing the global order. 

The Bretton Woods Agreement which set out a new global monetary system in 1944, led initially to 44 countries adopting the dollar as the world's reserve currency, at a time the US constituted 50 per cent of the global economy.


Now cracks are beginning to appear in that order - cracks precipitated by the growing number of crypto and digital currencies that can operate more or less outside the global financial system.


Earlier this month, China's central bank, the People's Bank of China (PBoC) stated that it was making good progress towards establishing a digital version of the yuan.

China's central bank digital currency will come under the control of the PBoC unlike the private and decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.


However, Japan is concerned about the digital yuan, given the historic rivalry and deterioration in diplomatic and commercial relations between Japan and China.

 

Japan is wary of China's intentions, and consequently, a group of Japanese lawmakers are now proposing a digital currency of their own and other countermeasures to the digital yuan, which they consider a major challenge to their national interests, especially if the digital yuan becomes widely used for international settlements. A digital yuan poses challenges not just to Japan but also to the position of the dollar as the global reserve currency and the economic clout of the US. The digital yuan could make it easier for states, institutions and individuals that have been sanctioned by the US to avoid the sanctions while increasing the influence of China. Client-states like North Korea and China's other allies of convenience like Russia and Iran, could potentially avoid the current sanctions against their countries by bypassing the banking system through the digital yuan. An official digital currency controlled by China would be hard for the US and its Western allies to influence. Even in a situation where regulators from the US and its allies banned the use of the digital yuan, there are several countries that are unhappy with US dominance over the global monetary and banking system, that will be prepared to embrace the digital yuan. Bitcoin has let the genie out of the bottle, and there is no putting it back.

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