COMMENTARY:

Thinking About Reserves

How can we know a dollar's value if we don't know dollar reserves?

by Fred Cederholm
I am convinced that very few know how many pallets full of US currency are sitting in the vaults worldwide! Those who know aren’t talking, and are getting worried BIG time! None will share their growing concerns publicly.

I’ve been thinking about reserves. Actually I’ve been thinking about currency, the US Dollar, the EURO, the Ruble, the “GLOBIE,” the Yuan/Renminbi, and perceptions. Almost all of the recent talk and economic debates have focused on deficits, debt, and printing more money. The headlines tell us how the US is heading to a financial Armageddon, the EURO is about to implode, BP may not survive the ramifications of the Gulf oil leak, and this will be a Summer/Fall of bankruptcies at all levels --- personal, corporate, local, state, and Federal. News rarely springs upon us without notice. Prophetic pundits and writers are always playing the harbingers of what is to come. For the most part they are proven dead wrong. Or, if you wait long enough every prediction becomes at least partially correct. Still... now and then, there are the occasional stories which surface (maybe even in clusters) that should put us on the alert for coming changes. I feel we are witnessing such an occurrence right now.

You see with all the talk about the negatives hovering over our planet, SOME governmental units and figures, entire countries, corporations, banks, and individuals are doing VERY, very well. Locally, the news is shaping up just fine. The corn will be knee high by the 4th of July (it is already waist to chest high now.) Roads are being fixed. Pot holes are being filled. And, the local SUPER (DUPER) Wal-Mart in Rochelle, after years of bickering and delays, will commence construction. I had another great blood test. My walking continues to improve. God is in his Heaven and all is right with the home front world!

When “you” find your own situation improving, you increase consumption/ spending, or you save and accumulate assets and wealth in the form of reserves. Reserves are good, or they can be. Yet, there is a negative side to this favorable situation as well. Money (yes, even the fiat currency with nothing but promises and hot air behind it) is a major store of value. Up to World War II, the British Pound significantly ruled the roost, but it was beginning to lose ground to the US Dollar. The global boom post WWII pushed the Buck to the forefront. Any connection of gold or silver to money ended in 1972. Paper and promises ruled! The US sold far more than it bought, and US/us literally became the “paper” owner of the world --- we held far more global currencies in reserve than anybody. (He, who has the most toys, wins --- and we were “winning.”)

American consumption of all things “foreign” soon reached a frenzied pace. Decades of trade deficits and a growing globalism saw much of our accumulated surplus (or reserves) evaporate. We still hold untold bunches of “goodies and stuff,” but we have devolved from the world’s greatest creditor, to the galaxy’s biggest consumer/borrower. Not to worry... the dollars accumulated and held world wide “were” as good as gold, or were they? For some time now, the US Buck has been the world’s reserve currency. It is the official currency of OPEC --- you want OPEC energy, you gotta pay in US Dollars. You used to be able to go to the US Treasury website and readily determine how many Bucks and Dollar denominated equivalents were out there. The numbers became gargantuan, and the M’s (or money supply numbers) were “consistently” compiled. I am convinced that very few know how many pallets full of US currency are sitting in the vaults worldwide! Those who know aren’t talking, and are getting worried BIG time! None will share their growing concerns publicly.

Concerns have sent the moguls of the world looking for an alternative to the Dollar. Their search has been hard --- and futile. There are just too many Dollars being held out there and there is no one substitute out there either. Any change over WILL occur eventually, but it will take years! Many writers/ economists/ monetarists saw the EURO as the coming substitute. The Treaty of Maastricht convinced me otherwise due to the limitations and constraints placed upon printing of EUROs. Events in Greece have taken a toll, and we have yet to see full impact of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, (Greece) and Spain -the PIIGS.

Two years ago as a guest on the Venezuelan News Hour, I foresaw (or proposed) an energy backed currency. Very few nation states are in a position to issue a therm or BTU backed money. These include Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela. None of them are really on the world’s A-list right now. Last week, Medvedev of Russia foresaw the Ruble (energy backed???) becoming a world player in the reserve currency system. Is this the first feeler being put forth on what I suggested two years ago? Would the Russian Ruble Become the world’s first “THERMIE?”

We also saw a mock up of a new global coin enter the game, the “GLOBIE.” What would be its backing, or guarantees? Who would issue it? There were rumblings of a much needed re-valuation of the Chinese Yuan/Renminbi. What would the Chinese monetarize in any global play to enter the world’s reserve currency stakes? Their unending supply of cheap labor? Time will tell... Ah to live in interesting times...

I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2009 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net.



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This story was published on June 21, 2010.