Russia’s economy can stand alone, as the world abandons the US dollar

The recent escalation U.S. sanctions blocking Europe, Asia and other countries from trade and investment with Russia, Iran and China has imposed enormous opportunity costs – the cost of lost opportunities – on U.S. allies. And the recent confiscation of the gold and foreign reserves of Venezuela, Afghanistan and now Russia, along the targeted grabbing of bank accounts of wealthy foreigners (hoping to win their hearts and minds, along with recovery of their sequestered accounts), has ended the idea that dollar holdings or those in its sterling and euro NATO satellites are a safe investment haven when world economic conditions become shaky.

So I am somewhat chagrined as I watch the speed at which this U.S.-centered financialized system has de-dollarized over the span of just a year or two. The basic theme of my Super Imperialism has been how, for the past fifty years, the U.S. Treasury-bill standard has channeled foreign savings to U.S. financial markets and banks, giving Dollar Diplomacy a free ride. I thought that de-dollarization would be led by China and Russia moving to take control of their economies to avoid the kind of financial polarization that is imposing austerity on the United States. But U.S. officials are forcing them to overcome whatever hesitancy they had to de-dollarize.

I had expected that the end of the dollarized imperial economy would come about by other countries breaking away. But that is not what has happened. U.S. diplomats have chosen to end international dollarization themselves, while helping Russia build up its own means of self-reliant agricultural and industrial production. This global fracture process actually has been going on for some years now, starting with the sanctions blocking America’s NATO allies and other economic satellites from trading with Russia. For Russia, these sanctions had the same effect that protective tariffs would have had.

Russia is discovering (or is on the verge of discovering) that it does not need U.S. dollars as backing for the ruble’s exchange rate. Its central bank can create the rubles needed to pay domestic wages and finance capital formation. The U.S. confiscations thus may finally lead Russia to end neoliberal monetary philosophy, as Sergei Glaziev has long been advocating in favor of MMT.

The same dynamic undercutting ostensible U.S aims has occurred with U.S. sanctions against the leading Russian billionaires. The neoliberal shock therapy and privatizations of the 1990s left Russian kleptocrats with only one way to cash out on the assets they had grabbed from the public domain. That was to incorporate their takings and sell their shares in London and New York. Domestic savings had been wiped out, and U.S. advisors persuaded Russia’s central bank not to create its own ruble money.

The result was that Russia’s national oil, gas and mineral patrimony was not used to finance a rationalization of Russian industry and housing. Instead of the revenue from privatization being invested to create new Russian means of protection, it was burned up on nouveau-riche acquisitions of luxury British real estate, yachts and other global flight-capital assets. But the effect of making the Russian dollar, sterling and euro holdings hostage has been to make the City of London too risky a venue in which to hold their assets. By imposing sanctions on the richest Russians closest to Putin, U.S. officials hoped to induce them to oppose his breakaway from the West, and thus to serve effectively as NATO agents-of-influence. But for Russian billionaires, their own country is starting to look safest.

For many decades now, the Federal Reserve and Treasury have fought against gold recovering its role in international reserves. But how will India and Saudi Arabia view their dollar holdings as Biden and Blinken try to strong-arm them into following the U.S. “rules-based order” instead of their own national self-interest? The recent U.S. dictates have left little alternative but to start protecting their own political autonomy by converting dollar and euro holdings into gold as an asset free of political liability of being held hostage to the increasingly costly and disruptive U.S. demands.

U.S. diplomacy has rubbed Europe’s nose in its abject subservience by telling its governments to have their companies dump the Russian assets for pennies on the dollar after Russia’s foreign reserves were blocked and the ruble’s exchange rate plunged. Blackstone, Goldman Sachs and other U.S. investors moved quickly to buy up what Shell Oil and other foreign companies were unloading.

Nobody thought that the postwar 1945-2020 world order would give way this fast. A truly new international economic order is emerging, although it is not yet clear just what form it will take. But “prodding the Bear” with the U.S./NATO confrontation with Russia has passed critical-mass level. It no longer is just about Ukraine. That is merely the trigger, a catalyst for driving much of the world away from the US/NATO orbit.

https://www.informationclearinghouse.info/57033.htm

 

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