Trust is a fickle thing. It’s there until it isn’t. This is especially true with paper currencies. Their value is based on trust that the sovereign issuer will act faithfully and responsibly. The standards for a reserve currency are even higher given their status in global trade and finance. Throughout history, there have been many reserve currencies and they have all failed, eventually. Every one.
The average shelf life of a reserve currency is approximately 100 years. Can anyone today recall the importance of the French Livre or the Dutch Guider in world trade? They were the “U.S. dollar” of their day. At their height, no one questioned their durability much the same as, until recently, most didn’t question the durability of the U.S. dollar. But for a few keen observers, the writing has been on the wall for several decades.
It first caught my attention in the late 1990s. I started to see a change in behaviour by the Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan. He was coming to the rescue of markets under the guise of protecting the financial system with increasing frequency. First it was the bail out caused by the demise of the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in 1998. During this same period, Greenspan — with the assistance of the media — helped fuel the dot com bubble which finally burst in 2000. By the time the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in September 2001, the Fed, under Greenspan, began its policy of keeping interest rates “accommodative“ permanently and also showing blatant disregard of its independence from federal government policy. Full Article