Wednesday, March 25, 2009

America to Geithner: "Will You Please, Be Quiet, Please?" And: "Is a global super-currency on the agenda?"

Yesterday Reuters reported (and we posted) that, in response to a direct question from a U.S. congresscritter:

"Would you categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency as suggested this morning by China and also by Russia, Mr Secretary?"

Geithner replied, "I would, yes."

Today MarketBeat says:

Oh, Mr. Geithner.

Some have commented that whatever merits Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner may have, public speaking is not one of them. The dollar slumped dramatically against the euro, yen and other currencies after Mr. Geithner Wednesday said the U.S. is “quite open” to a suggestion from Chinese officials of a move to a “Special Drawing Right” linked currency system.

Oy. “Geithner is learning the hard way about the impact that his comments can have on the currency market and despite his attempt to pacify investors, his words have left an air of uncertainty in the U.S. dollar,” writes Kathy Lien, director of currency research at Global Forex Trading.

With the Chinese of late making plenty of noise about U.S. borrowing and spending and the health of the U.S. dollar, officials in the U.S. would be expected to push back against that. President Barack Obama did as much in his press conference Tuesday, saying that the dollar was fundamentally strong, and that there was no need for another reserve currency....MORE

From FT Alphville:

It started out as a call from the likes of George Soros and Ted Truman.

But the IMF’s little known international accounting system of special drawing rights [SDRs] has now been propelled straight into the limelight thanks to both China and Russia. However, while Soros and Truman saw the units as a means to help induce a global helicopter cash drop to kick-start the world economy and save the peripheral states from financial implosion, the Chinese and Russians are advocating the accounting system as a means towards a new global reserve currency.

And this does make some sense. Many months ago, when the topic was firmly off the agenda we asked Ken Rogoff, Harvard economics professor and former chief economist of the IMF, about the role of SDRs in the future. His said they were basically not very meaningful in the absence of a consensus to have a world currency. So is that really what China, Russia, Soros and Truman are advocating?

Worth considering is the following quote from Paul Volcker...MORE

I think I saw Cuba make a similar proposal, no word on North Korea's thinking.