Bretton Woods Conference

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Mt. Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

The Bretton Woods Conference established in July 1944 the gold standard upon which the leading economic nations, and particularly the United States, would base their financial relations and monetary systems. 44 Allied nations sent delegates to the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, under the auspices of the United Nations, to discuss and sign the Bretton Woods Agreements in July 1944. These agreements established the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which still exists, and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which is now part of the World Bank Group.

The essential agreement was to establish a gold standard for the world's leading currencies. Each industrialized nation would adopt a monetary policy to maintain the exchange rate of its currency within a fixed value relative to gold, plus or minus one percent. The role of the IMF was to handle temporary imbalances of payments between nations.

Bretton Woods system

Ibn Saud meets with President Franklin Roosevelt, February 14, 1945.

Trade between people and nations cannot be prevented. In modern society, without trade, people starve. So aggregate exchange rates have to be established between for cross border transactions. These exchange rates are handled between bankers. The Bretton Woods conference established a trading system between bankers.

This came to be known as the Bretton Woods System. Some of the institutions established at the Bretton Woods Conference previously did not exist, and were created out of the conference with aggregate assets of lenders participating in the conference to provide working capital. The institutions are the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund to reconcile accounts annually between member states. And the Bank for International Settlements to settle mostly civil claims between actors.

On February 14, 1945, US President Franklin Roosevelt met with and reached an agreement with Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, to make the US dollar the international reserve currency for the purchase of crude oil.[1]

Petrodollar

In August 1971, President Richard Nixon ended the convertibility of U.S. dollars into gold, in the face of mounting inflation and debts caused by out-of-control government spending simultaneously on social programs and the Vietnam war. This caused a run on U.S. gold reserves and the value of the dollar to free fall. On June 9, 1974, Nixon addressed this issue by signing a series of bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia, in which the latter country would use its political influence to coerce OPEC into standardizing the sale of oil in dollars, therefore preserving the dollar's status as the global reserve currency in the post-Bretton Woods era.[2]

The U.S. sold dollars needed for international transactions by issuing Treasury debt, which is a universally fungible international medium of exchange. Virtually all transactions for oil globally had been conducted in dollars until late 2022 when Saudi Arabia began accepting Chinese yuan. This gave the U.S. an “exorbitant privilege” in that it could issue an unlimited stream of Treasury debt to the world. One of the consequences of this arrangement is that it has allowed the U.S. to spend far beyond its means, running up $32 trillion of debt since 1980, when its national debt stood at a mere $1 trillion.

When the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to take care of U.S. needs, it made capital flow out of other countries, and the value of their currencies fall, forcing inflation on them. Not a single country in the world was left untouched. Many countries did not want to be held hostage to the implicit and explicit negative consequences of dollar hegemony, and wanted to remove the “exorbitant privilege” that they believed the U.S. abused to their individual and collective detriment.

On June 12, 2024, BRICS News tweeted, "Saudi Arabia's 50-year-old petrodollar agreement with the United States has expired, with no new agreement in place. Saudi Arabia will now sell oil in multiple currencies, including the Chinese RMB, Euros, Yen, and Yuan, instead of exclusively in US dollars."[3]

De-dollarization

De-dollarization is the process of freeing countries from use of the dollar to denominate the values of goods and services exchanged. The use of the dollar means that all of the transactions pass through the American banking system, which means that the United States has a monopoly information flow of who is selling what to whom. This American domination and an exclusive commercial advantage is removed when trade is conducted in national currencies and do not go through the United States banking system. De-dollarization is a consequence of American abuse of the power of the dollar as the global reserve currency. It is the abuse of the global financial system by spendthrift Congresses and the Federal Reserve Board of printing excess dollars in circulation and offering nothing of real value in terms of manufactured goods or services to back it up, thus robbing the rest of the planet.

The BRICS group, led by Russia and China began building an international finance and trading system that does not rely on dollars, that uses countries’ local currencies, gold, oil, or other assets to trade. The U.S. abuse of economic sanctions to blackmail and punish other countries that did not bend to America's will added to the impetus. The rise of BRICS means that the US dollar will, at a minimum, lose its relative monopoly on oil and gas trades and sales.

If the world favours a second, gold-based settlement system and opts out of the fiat money dollar, which is no longer backed by value. This could lead to the end not only of dollar settlement, but also of the dollar imperium. The US has so far been able to pay for everything in the world with its freshly printed money that has no cover at all and to increase its prosperity in exchange for “fiat money”. If this were no longer possible, if the countries of the world no longer accepted worthless dollars, the USA would no longer be able to buy all the world's goods with them, to pay for 900 billion dollars in military expenditure and to cover its financial deficits. Dollar dominance will inevitably fade and the dollar decline as the world's top reserve currency, though it will undoubtedly continue to survive in that capacity in parts of the world where the US continues to have considerable political and economic leverage, like Latin America. In this respect, the financial boycott against Russia and a counter-reaction by the world could result in the collapse of the dollar empire.

Elon Musk explained the process of de-dollarization succinctly: "The United States has overplayed its hand in weaponizing the dollar with sanctions...You're now seeing a lot of countries de-dollar their transactions because we’ve forced it...And this goes beyond even Russia, China, and Iran...Countries like Brazil or India still want to transact with Russia...They can’t do it with dollars, so we've forced them to de-dollarize their transactions, thus weakening the strength of the dollar in the world."[4]

Russian State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin observed on June 14, 2024, "The dollar has become toxic...Washington has totally undermined trust in the dollar as a global reserve currency by imposing illegal sanctions against our country’s financial institutions."[5]

References

  1. How FDR Charmed a Saudi King and Won U.S. Access to Oil, BY: LESLEY KENNEDY, UPDATED: OCTOBER 25, 2023 | ORIGINAL: OCTOBER 18, 2018. history.com
  2. [1]investopedia
  3. BRICS News, Jun 12, 2024. twitter.com/BRICSinfo
  4. Elon Musk: "We Are Sleepwalking Our Way Into World War Three," "Putting Civilization Itself At Risk", Posted By Tim Hains, October 25, 2023. www.realclearpolitics.com
  5. Vyacheslav Volodin: USD became toxic, June 14, 2024. duma.gov.ru