Money Matters

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26.Okt 12    Wenn Geld parkieren Geld kostet, Tages-Anzeiger, Philipp Löpfe
24 Oct 12    Prison May Be the Next Stop on a Gold Currency Journey, NYT, ALAN FEUER
21.Sep 12   Der fleissigste Gelddrucker der Welt, Tages-Anzeiger, Mark Dittli
11 Aug 12   Death of the dollar, Asia Times, Chan Akya
19.Jan 11   Jagd auf einen Nobelpreisträger, NZZ, Andrea Spalinger
16.Jan 11    Mikrofinanz unter Beschuss, NZZ am Sonntag, Charlotte Jacquemart
14 Jan 11    Sacrificing Microcredit for Megaprofits, NYT, MUHAMMAD YUNUS
8 Nov 09   Inside the Global Gold Frenzy, NYT, NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
7 Nov 09   Mises: The Man Who Predicted the Depression, The Daily Capitalist, Jeff Harding
6 Nov 09   The Man Who Predicted the Depression, WSJ, MARK SPITZNAGEL
2 Nov 09   Could America go broke?, WP, Robert J. Samuelson
13 juil 09   Le dollar peine toujours plus à garder sa prééminence mondiale, Le Temps, Alessandro Scipioni
13 juil 09   Les déficits contraignent les Etats-Unis à emprunter toujours plus,Le Temps, Alessandro Scipioni, commentaire
10 Jul 09   Mapping Out a Global Path for the Yuan,, Wen Xiu et al.
10 Jul 09   China Appoints Chief for Yuan's Global Push,, Wen Xiu
1 Jul 09   Debt is capitalism’s dirty little secret, FT, Ben Funnell
1 Jul 09   In China, New Limits on Virtual Currency, NYT, DAVID BARBOZA
29 Jun 09   China bars use of virtual money for trading in real goods, Xinhua, PRC, Ministry of Commerce
17 Jun 09   BRIC Dollar Bonds Beat Ruble Debt as Medvedev Frets, Bloomberg, Laura Cochrane et al.
17 Jun 09   Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge, Bloomberg, William Pesek, Commentary
8 juin 09    La Russie rejoint la Chine, remet en cause la suprématie du dollar, Le Temps, Ram Etwareea
14 May 09   The Almighty Renminbi?, NYT, NOURIEL ROUBINI
14 May 09   China’s Heart of Gold, NYT, VICTOR ZHIKAI GAO
7 May 09   Swiss National Bank is biggest looser in Europe's ill-advised gold sales: $19bn, FT, Javier Blas
23 Mar 09   Reform the International Monetary System, People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan
16 Mar 09   Nation urges more say in global finance, China Daily, Bernice Chan
8.Mär 09  Nationalbank schmilzt 21 Mio Tell- & Rütlischwur-Goldmünzen ein, Sonntagszeitung, Victor Weber
12 Feb 09   Gold Standard: Capitalism Needs a Sound-Money Foundation, WSJ, JUDY SHELTON
jan 2009   La BNS soutient-elle le dollar?, PME, Mohammad Farrokh
17 Nov 08   No regulation can match a gold peg's disciplinary effects on central & other banks, WSJ, G.O'Driscoll
14 Nov 08   Gold Standard: Stable, Real-Value Money Is the Key to Recovery, WSJ, Judy Shelton, comments
17.Jun 07   Goldbürgerstreich II: SNB will weitere 250t Gold abbauen!, BNS: 250t d'or à vendre!, Anton Keller
29.Jun 06   Goldbürgerstreiche I, Weltwoche, Claude Baumann

China Daily    16 March 2009

Nation urges more say in global finance
Bernice Chan

Four of the largest developing nations called for emerging economies to have a bigger say in the global financial system as G20 finance ministers vowed to combat the worst downturn since the 1930s.

Brazil, Russia, India and China, or BRIC, said in a statement on Saturday: "We call for urgent action with regards to voice and representation in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order that they better reflect their real economic weights."

They also wanted the representation reform of the World Bank, scheduled to be completed by April 2010, to be speeded up.

"More balanced, proactive, coordinated and countercyclical" economic policies are needed to promote global economic recovery, the statement said.

Finance Minister Xie Xuren called for joint efforts from the international community to accelerate the reform of international financial institutions and build a new global financial system, which is "fair and square, compatible and orderly".

"At a global level, the voice of emerging and developing economies in the international financial system should be increased and trade and financial protectionism should be prevented," Xie said.

The BRIC countries are taking measures to promote domestic demand and will continue to do so, the statement said, adding that protectionism should be jointly tackled.

The statement was released at Horsham in southern England at the G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, before their nations' leaders meet at the G20 summit in London on April 2.

Currently, developed economies dominate international institutions. For example, the voting rights of BRIC countries in the IMF are 9.62 percent of the total, which accounts for about half of the voting rights the US holds.

According to the schedule set at the weekend meeting, the next review of IMF quotas should be concluded by January 2011.

"China and other countries such as Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to actively increase IMF resources and the voting rights structure should be reformed," Uri Dadush a senior associate with the US think-tank Carnegie Endowment, told China Daily last week.

At the weekend meeting, ministers from the world's largest economies also pledged to regulate hedge funds and start closer checks on credit ratings agencies to prevent a repeat of a financial market crisis that is crippling businesses and putting millions out of work.

"We are committed to deliver the scale of sustained effort necessary to restore growth," the ministers said in a statement promising extra money for the IMF and regional lenders such as the Asian Development Bank.

No figure was released but one official attending the talks told Reuters they centered on more than doubling the $250 billion currently at the IMF's disposal to help countries hit by a halt to credit and investment.

Separately, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who will host the summit of G20 leaders on April 2, said "massive change" was about to take place in financial market regulation, notably supervision of hedge funds.

The G20 accounts for over 80 percent of the world's gross domestic product, which is expected to shrink in 2009 by more than any year since the 1930s after the financial crisis that erupted in the United States in 2007 engulfed confidence, activity, trade and jobs worldwide.

About the broadcaster:
Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.

People's Bank of China    23 March 2009

Reform the International Monetary System
Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor

The outbreak of the current crisis and its spillover in the world have confronted us with a long-existing but still unanswered question,i.e., what kind of international reserve currency do we need to secure global financial stability and facilitate world economic growth, which was one of the purposes for establishing the IMF? There were various institutional arrangements in an attempt to find a solution, including the Silver Standard, the Gold Standard, the Gold Exchange Standard and the Bretton Woods system. The above question, however, as the ongoing financial crisis demonstrates, is far from being solved, and has become even more severe due to the inherent weaknesses of the current international monetary system.

Theoretically, an international reserve currency should first be anchored to a stable benchmark and issued according to a clear set of rules, therefore to ensure orderly supply; second, its supply should be flexible enough to allow timely adjustment according to the changing demand; third, such adjustments should be disconnected from economic conditions and sovereign interests of any single country. The acceptance of credit-based national currencies as major international reserve currencies, as is the case in the current system, is a rare special case in history. The crisis again calls for creative reform of the existing international monetary system towards an international reserve currency with a stable value, rule-based issuance and manageable supply, so as to achieve the objective of safeguarding global economic and financial stability.

I. The outbreak of the crisis and its spillover to the entire world reflect the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system.

Issuing countries of reserve currencies are constantly confronted with the dilemma between achieving their domestic monetary policy goals and meeting other countries' demand for reserve currencies. On the one hand, the monetary authorities cannot simply focus on domestic goals without carrying out their international responsibilities. On the other hand, they cannot pursue different domestic and international objectives at the same time. They may either fail to adequately meet the demand of a growing global economy for liquidity as they try to ease inflation pressures at home, or create excess liquidity in the global markets by overly stimulating domestic demand. The Triffin Dilemma, i.e., the issuing countries of reserve currencies cannot maintain the value of the reserve currencies while providing liquidity to the world, still exists.

When a national currency is used in pricing primary commodities, trade settlements and is adopted as a reserve currency globally, efforts of the monetary authority issuing such a currency to address its economic imbalances by adjusting exchange rate would be made in vain, as its currency serves as a benchmark for many other currencies. While benefiting from a widely accepted reserve currency, the globalization also suffers from the flaws of such a system. The frequency and increasing intensity of financial crises following the collapse of the Bretton Woods system suggests the costs of such a system to the world may have exceeded its benefits. The price is becoming increasingly higher, not only for the users, but also for the issuers of the reserve currencies. Although crisis may not necessarily be an intended result of the issuing authorities, it is an inevitable outcome of the institutional flaws.

II. The desirable goal of reforming the international monetary system, therefore, is to create an international reserve currency that is disconnected from individual nations and is able to remain stable in the long run, thus removing the inherent deficiencies caused by using credit-based national currencies.

1. Though the super-sovereign reserve currency has long since been proposed, yet no substantive progress has been achieved to date. Back in the 1940s, Keynes had already proposed to introduce an international currency unit named "Bancor", based on the value of 30 representative commodities. Unfortunately, the proposal was not accepted. The collapse of the Bretton Woods system, which was based on the White approach, indicates that the Keynesian approach may have been more farsighted. The IMF also created the SDR in 1969, when the defects of the Bretton     Woods system initially emerged, to mitigate the inherent risks sovereign reserve currencies caused. Yet, the role of the SDR has not been put into full play due to limitations on its allocation and the scope of its uses. However, it serves as the light in the tunnel for the reform of the international monetary system.

2. A super-sovereign reserve currency not only eliminates the inherent risks of credit-based sovereign currency, but also makes it possible to manage global liquidity. A super-sovereign reserve currency managed by a global institution could be used to both create and control the global liquidity. And when a country's currency is no longer used as the yardstick for global trade and as the benchmark for other currencies, the exchange rate policy of the country would be far more effective in adjusting economic imbalances. This will significantly reduce the risks of a future crisis and enhance crisis management capability.

III. The reform should be guided by a grand vision and begin with specific deliverables. It should be a gradual process that yields win-win results for all

The reestablishment of a new and widely accepted reserve currency with a stable valuation benchmark may take a long time. The creation of an international currency unit, based on the Keynesian proposal, is a bold initiative that requires extraordinary political vision and courage. In the short run, the international community, particularly the IMF, should at least recognize and face up to the risks resulting from the existing system, conduct regular monitoring and assessment and issue timely early warnings.

Special consideration should be given to giving the SDR a greater role. The SDR has the features and potential to act as a super-sovereign reserve currency. Moreover, an increase in SDR allocation would help the Fund address its resources problem and the difficulties in the voice and representation reform. Therefore, efforts should be made to push forward a SDR allocation. This will require political cooperation among member countries. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment to the Articles of Agreement and relevant resolution on SDR allocation proposed in 1997 should be approved as soon as possible so that members joined the Fund after 1981 could also share the benefits of the SDR. On the basis of this, considerations could be given to further increase SDR allocation.

The scope of using the SDR should be broadened, so as to enable it to fully satisfy the member countries' demand for a reserve currency.

Set up a settlement system between the SDR and other currencies. Therefore, the SDR, which is now only used between governments and international institutions, could become a widely accepted means of payment in international trade and financial transactions.

Actively promote the use of the SDR in international trade, commodities pricing, investment and corporate book-keeping. This will help enhance the role of the SDR, and will effectively reduce the fluctuation of prices of assets denominated in national currencies and related risks.

Create financial assets denominated in the SDR to increase its appeal. The introduction of SDR-denominated securities, which is being studied by the IMF, will be a good start.

Further improve the valuation and allocation of the SDR. The basket of currencies forming the basis for SDR valuation should be expanded to include currencies of all major economies, and the GDP may also be included as a weight. The allocation of the SDR can be shifted from a purely calculation-based system to a system backed by real assets, such as a reserve pool, to further boost market confidence in its value.

IV. Entrusting part of the member countries' reserve to the centralized management of the IMF will not only enhance the international community's ability to address the crisis and maintain the stability of the international monetary and financial system, but also significantly strengthen the role of the SDR.

1. Compared with separate management of reserves by individual countries, the centralized management of part of the global reserve by a trustworthy international institution with a reasonable return to encourage participation will be more effective in deterring speculation and stabilizing financial markets. The participating countries can also save some reserve for domestic development and economic growth. With its universal membership, its unique mandate of maintaining monetary and financial stability, and as an international "supervisor" on the macroeconomic policies of its member countries, the IMF, equipped with its expertise, is endowed with a natural advantage to act as the manager of its member countries' reserves.

2. The centralized management of its member countries' reserves by the Fund will be an effective measure to promote a greater role of the SDR as a reserve currency. To achieve this, the IMF can set up an open-ended SDR-denominated fund based on the market practice, allowing subscription and redemption in the existing reserve currencies by various investors as desired. This arrangement will not only promote the development of SDR-denominated assets, but will also partially allow management of the liquidity in the form of the existing reserve currencies. It can even lay a foundation for increasing SDR allocation to gradually replace existing reserve currencies with the SDR.

Submit Date:2009-3-23 17:35:00

May 14, 2009

The Almighty Renminbi?

THE 19th century was dominated by the British Empire, the 20th century by the United States. We may now be entering the Asian century, dominated by a rising China and its currency. While the dollar’s status as the major reserve currency will not vanish overnight, we can no longer take it for granted. Sooner than we think, the dollar may be challenged by other currencies, most likely the Chinese renminbi. This would have serious costs for America, as our ability to finance our budget and trade deficits cheaply would disappear.

Traditionally, empires that hold the global reserve currency are also net foreign creditors and net lenders. The British Empire declined — and the pound lost its status as the main global reserve currency — when Britain became a net debtor and a net borrower in World War II. Today, the United States is in a similar position. It is running huge budget and trade deficits, and is relying on the kindness of restless foreign creditors who are starting to feel uneasy about accumulating even more dollar assets. The resulting downfall of the dollar may be only a matter of time.

But what could replace it? The British pound, the Japanese yen and the Swiss franc remain minor reserve currencies, as those countries are not major powers. Gold is still a barbaric relic whose value rises only when inflation is high. The euro is hobbled by concerns about the long-term viability of the European Monetary Union. That leaves the renminbi.

China is a creditor country with large current account surpluses, a small budget deficit, much lower public debt as a share of G.D.P. than the United States, and solid growth. And it is already taking steps toward challenging the supremacy of the dollar. Beijing has called for a new international reserve currency in the form of the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights (a basket of dollars, euros, pounds and yen). China will soon want to see its own currency included in the basket, as well as the renminbi used as a means of payment in bilateral trade.

At the moment, though, the renminbi is far from ready to achieve reserve currency status. China would first have to ease restrictions on money entering and leaving the country, make its currency fully convertible for such transactions, continue its domestic financial reforms and make its bond markets more liquid. It would take a long time for the renminbi to become a reserve currency, but it could happen. China has already flexed its muscle by setting up currency swaps with several countries (including Argentina, Belarus and Indonesia) and by letting institutions in Hong Kong issue bonds denominated in renminbi, a first step toward creating a deep domestic and international market for its currency.

If China and other countries were to diversify their reserve holdings away from the dollar — and they eventually will — the United States would suffer. We have reaped significant financial benefits from having the dollar as the reserve currency. In particular, the strong market for the dollar allows Americans to borrow at better rates. We have thus been able to finance larger deficits for longer and at lower interest rates, as foreign demand has kept Treasury yields low. We have been able to issue debt in our own currency rather than a foreign one, thus shifting the losses of a fall in the value of the dollar to our creditors. Having commodities priced in dollars has also meant that a fall in the dollar’s value doesn’t lead to a rise in the price of imports.

Now, imagine a world in which China could borrow and lend internationally in its own currency. The renminbi, rather than the dollar, could eventually become a means of payment in trade and a unit of account in pricing imports and exports, as well as a store of value for wealth by international investors. Americans would pay the price. We would have to shell out more for imported goods, and interest rates on both private and public debt would rise. The higher private cost of borrowing could lead to weaker consumption and investment, and slower growth.

This decline of the dollar might take more than a decade, but it could happen even sooner if we do not get our financial house in order. The United States must rein in spending and borrowing, and pursue growth that is not based on asset and credit bubbles. For the last two decades America has been spending more than its income, increasing its foreign liabilities and amassing debts that have become unsustainable. A system where the dollar was the major global currency allowed us to prolong reckless borrowing.

Now that the dollar’s position is no longer so secure, we need to shift our priorities. This will entail investing in our crumbling infrastructure, alternative and renewable resources and productive human capital — rather than in unnecessary housing and toxic financial innovation. This will be the only way to slow down the decline of the dollar, and sustain our influence in global affairs.

Nouriel Roubini is a professor of economics at the New York University Stern School of Business and the chairman of an economic consulting firm.

May 14, 2009

China’s Heart of Gold

IN China, many people refer to the dollar as mei jin, or “American gold.” Government officials, businessmen and people on the street all use the term. So if a Chinese person tells you that he owes you 100 American gold, don’t expect a big fortune, because he’s planning to pay you $100.

Chinese impressions of the American dollar as the gold standard were so deeply entrenched that they survived President Richard Nixon’s 1971 delinking of gold and the greenback. Around 30 years ago, China’s foreign exchange reserves were as little as $167 million. At one important meeting in the late 1970s, Deng Xiaoping, the leader of China, prophesied to an audience of top government officials: “Comrades, just imagine! One day we may have a foreign reserve as big as $10 billion!” Silence fell on the audience, because that figure seemed so improbable. After a long pause, Deng went on to tell the unconvinced crowd: “Comrades, just imagine! With 10 billion American gold, how much China can do!”

Deng’s view of the dollar reflected his admiration for many positive elements of American capitalism. In November 1986, I served as Deng’s interpreter when he met with John Phelan, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, who was visiting Beijing. During the meeting, Deng told him: “You are the rich capitalists with great wealth, and China is still very poor with little wealth. You know finance and capital markets very well. You need to teach China a lot about finance and capital markets. One day in the future, China will also have its own stock exchange.”

That was the prelude to China’s rapid economic growth. China’s foreign reserves are now close to $2 trillion, and around $1.5 trillion of it is invested in dollar assets. With the global financial crisis, the attention of the world often focuses on this huge pile of American dollars in Chinese hands.

What many don’t remember is that for years, there was either a shortage or a feared shortage of American dollars. In the 1980s, for example, the government required everyone to convert dollars into the Chinese currency, the renminbi, which literally means “people’s money.” As a result, American gold became a status symbol. Despite the mandatory conversion into renminbi, many people held onto their dollars, or bought them at inflated exchange rates, if they could find a seller at all.

No one knows for sure when the tide started to turn, or the exact moment when American gold started its slow but seemingly irreversible loss of luster. But now, many shops in China no longer accept dollar-based credit cards issued by foreign banks (the customer pays in dollars, but the shopkeeper is paid in renminbi) and foreigners cannot convert American dollars into renminbi beyond a given quota.

In the past, people held dollars for no immediate purpose. Today, they are more likely to keep them only if they need them to send their children abroad for school, travel or to do business in another country. Over all, the government is becoming more worried about the safety of its investments in the United States, which are largely in Treasury bonds and quasi-sovereign securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Beijing recently called for a greater role in international trade for the special drawing rights currency of the International Monetary Fund. But China is also fully aware that the United States can veto an I.M.F. decision. China’s call was more meant to sound an alarm to the United States.

Many Chinese people increasingly fear the rapid erosion of the American dollar. The United States may want to consider offering inflation-protection measures for China’s existing investments in America, and offer additional security or collateral for its continued investments. America should also provide its largest creditor with greater transparency and information.

We still call the dollar American gold. But the United States should not assume that this will never change.

Victor Zhikai Gao is an executive director of the Beijing Private Equity Association and a director of the China National Association of International Studies.

Le Temps    8 juin 2009

La Russie rejoint la Chine, remet en cause la suprématie du dollar
Lors du Forum de Saint-Pétersbourg, les autorités russes appuient la demande en faveur
d’une nouvelle devise de réserve mondiale. Le BRIC en discutera aussi dans une semaine
Par Ram Etwareea

Pas de répit pour le dollar américain. Il a été de nouveau attaqué ce week-end. Son instabilité inquiète les principaux partenaires des Etats-Unis. Pour le ministre russe des Finances Alexeï Koudrine, l’apparition d’une nouvelle devise de réserve mondiale est nécessaire et possible.

Parlant en marge du Forum économique de Saint-Pétersbourg qui a conclu ses travaux samedi, Alexeï Koudrine a jugé que la monnaie chinoise pourrait devenir une monnaie internationale dans un délai de dix ans à condition que Pékin libéralise l’économie du pays. «Je ne crois pas que de nouvelles unions monétaires majeures vont émerger dans un futur proche. Je pense que la voie la plus courte serait que la Chine ouvre son économie et assure la convertibilité du yuan», a-t-il déclaré. A la mi-mai, le chef d’Etat russe Dmitri Medvedev avait aussi attaqué le billet vert et annoncé qu’il proposerait au sommet du G8, début juillet en Italie, de faire du rouble une devise de réserve mondiale.

Assaut chinois
La semaine dernière, le président russe a laissé entendre qu’il mettra la question de l’hégémonie du dollar sur la table lorsqu’il recevra ses homologues de la Chine, de l’Inde et du Brésil. Ce sera à l’occasion du premier sommet des pays dits BRIC (Brésil, Russie, Inde et Chine) qui est prévu le 16 mai à Ekaterinburg la troisième ville russe, à l’est du pays. Selon Le Monde de ce dimanche, le président Medvedev a déclaré que «les Etats qui possédaient des monnaies de réserves endossaient la responsabilité de la politique économique mondiale et que les autres pays, qui n’émettent pas de monnaie de réserve, peuvent devenir les otages de la politique des Etats émetteurs.»

L’assaut sur la monnaie américaine a été donné par la Chine, le plus grand créancier, devant le Japon, de l’économie américaine. C’était le 25 mars, soit à quelques jours du sommet du G20 qui réunissait les grandes économies au chevet de l’économie mondiale. Le gouverneur de la banque populaire de Chine suggérait la création d’une «devise internationale synthétique» dans le but de réduire la dépendance de l’économie mondiale sur le seul billet vert.

Dans un premier temps, la proposition chinoise avait eu un écho favorable de la part du Secrétaire américain au Trésor Timothy Geithner qui se déclarait prêt à étudier la proposition chinoise. Il devait se rétracter quelques heures après, suite à la glissade du dollar qui avait suivi ses déclarations. Parallèlement, le directeur du Fonds monétaire international Dominique Strauss-Kahn avait jugé «légitime» les discussions lancées par la Chine.

Si les autorités chinoises n’ont pas repris publiquement leurs revendications, elles ne cachent pas pour autant leurs inquiétudes vis-à-vis de l’instabilité et l’affaiblissement de la monnaie américaine ainsi que du déficit croissant des Etats-Unis. Il y a une semaine, Timothy Geithner s’est rendu à Pékin pour rassurer les responsables économiques chinois sur les mesures prises pour redresser et consolider l’économie américaine. Il a affirmé son attachement à un billet vert stable et fort.

Réformes au FMI
Le ministre Alexeï Koudrine a également abordé la question de réformes du Fonds monétaire international (FMI) au Forum économique de Saint-Pétersbourg. «On voit beaucoup de retards et d’obstacles sur ce chemin, a-t-il déploré. Les pays devraient être représentés en fonction de l’importance de leur économie et leur rôle dans le monde; ce qui n’est pas le cas à présent.» Ce sujet fera l’objet de discussions la semaine prochaine au sommet des BRIC. Les quatre pays se disent prêts à participer dans le refinancement du FMI.

Bloomberg    June 17, 2009

Suitcase With $134 Billion Puts Dollar on Edge
 by William Pesek

It’s a plot better suited for a John Le Carre novel. Two Japanese men are detained in Italy after allegedly attempting to take $134 billion worth of U.S. bonds over the border into Switzerland. Details are maddeningly sketchy, so naturally the global rumor mill is kicking into high gear.

Are these would-be smugglers agents of Kim Jong Il stashing North Korea’s cash in a Swiss vault? Bagmen for Nigerian Internet scammers? Was the money meant for terrorists looking to buy nuclear warheads? Is Japan dumping its dollars secretly? Are the bonds real or counterfeit?

The implications of the securities being legitimate would be bigger than investors may realize. At a minimum, it would suggest that the U.S. risks losing control over its monetary supply on a massive scale.

The trillions of dollars of debt the U.S. will issue in the next couple of years needs buyers. Attracting them will require making sure that existing ones aren’t losing faith in the U.S.’s ability to control the dollar.

The dollar is, for better or worse, the core of our world economy and it’s best to keep it stable. News that’s more fitting for international spy novels than the financial pages won’t help that effort. It is incumbent upon the U.S. Treasury to get to the bottom of this tale and keep markets informed.

GDP Carriers
Think about it: These two guys were carrying the gross domestic product of New Zealand or enough for three Beijing Olympics. If economies were for sale, the men could buy Slovakia and Croatia and have plenty left over for Mongolia or Cambodia. Yes, they could have built vacation homes amidst Genghis Khan’s Gobi Desert or the famed Temples of Angkor. Bernard Madoff who?

These men carrying bonds concealed in the bottom of their luggage also would be the fourth-largest U.S. creditors. It makes you wonder if some of the time Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spends keeping the Chinese and Japanese invested in dollars should be devoted to well-financed men crossing the Italian-Swiss border.

This tale has gotten little attention in markets, perhaps because of the absurdity of our times. The last year has been a decidedly disorienting one for capitalists who once knew up from down, red from black and risk from reward. It almost fits with the surreal nature of today that a couple of travelers have more U.S. debt than Brazil in a suitcase and, well, that’s life.

Clancy Bestseller
You can almost picture Tom Clancy sitting in his study thinking: “Damn! Why didn’t I think of this yarn and novelize it years ago?” He could have sprinkled in a Chinese angle, a pinch of Russian intrigue, a dose of Pyongyang and a bit of Taiwan-Strait tension into the mix. Presto, a sure bestseller.

Daniel Craig may be thinking this is a great story on which to base the next James Bond flick. Perhaps Don Johnson could buy the rights to this tale. In 2002, the “Miami Vice” star was stopped by German customs officers as he was traveling in a car carrying credit notes and other securities worth as much as $8 billion. Now he could claim it was all, uh, research.

When I first heard of the $134 billion story, I was tempted to glance at my calendar to make sure it didn’t read April 1.

Let’s assume for a moment that these U.S. bonds are real. That would make a mockery of Japanese Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano’s “absolutely unshakable” confidence in the credibility of the U.S. dollar. Yosano would have some explaining to do about Japan’s $686 billion of U.S. debt if more of these suitcase capers come to light.

‘Kennedy Bonds’
Counterfeit $100 bills are one thing; two guys with undeclared bonds including 249 certificates worth $500 million and 10 “Kennedy bonds” of $1 billion each is quite another.

The bust could be a boon for Italy. If the securities are found to be genuine, the smugglers could be fined 40 percent of the total value for attempting to take them out of the country. Not a bad payday for a government grappling with a widening budget deficit and rebuilding the town of L’Aquila, which was destroyed by an earthquake in April.

It would be terrible news for the White House. Other than the U.S., China or Japan, no other nation could theoretically move those amounts. In the absence of clear explanations coming from the Treasury, conspiracy theories are filling the void.

On his blog, the Market Ticker, Karl Denninger wonders if the Treasury “has been surreptitiously issuing bonds to, say, Japan, as a means of financing deficits that someone didn’t want reported over the last, oh, say 10 or 20 years.” Adds Denninger: “Let’s hope we get those answers, and this isn’t one of those ‘funny things’ that just disappears into the night.”

This is still a story with far more questions than answers. It’s odd, though, that it’s not garnering more media attention. Interest is likely to grow. The last thing Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke need right now is tens of billions more of U.S. bonds -- or even high-quality fake ones -- suddenly popping up around the globe.

(William Pesek is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer of this column: William Pesek in Tokyo at

Bloomberg    June 17, 2009

BRIC Dollar Bonds Beat Ruble Debt as Medvedev Frets
By Laura Cochrane and Lester Pimentel

For all the criticism of the U.S. currency by leaders of the so-called BRIC nations, dollar bonds sold by the largest emerging-market countries are outperforming debt traded in reais, rubles and yuan.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Chinese President Hu Jintao, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for a “more diversified” monetary system yesterday to reduce dependency on the world’s reserve currency. The four leaders met in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, where they planned to discuss buying each other’s bonds and foreign exchange, said Arkady Dvorkovich, Medvedev’s top economic adviser.

“It’s not up to politicians to determine which currency will be the world reserve currency,” said Lutz Karpowitz, a currency strategist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “In the end the market decides it.”

Dollar bonds sold by China earned 11.4 percent in the past year, more than double the 4.6 percent for debt in yuan, JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes show. Brazil’s U.S. currency bonds returned 3.6 percent as real-based notes lost 4.9 percent, and Russia’s dollar bonds outperformed with a 1.9 percent loss compared with a 7 percent drop in ruble debt. India doesn’t have dollar-denominated debt.

‘Illiquid Market’
Bonds sold in dollars have beaten domestic debt in part because Russia and China manage the ruble and yuan. Those denominated in the U.S. currency can trade more freely, giving fund managers confidence they can sell the securities and get their money when they need it.

The result is limited foreign investment in local-currency bond markets, said Ward Brown, who manages $5 billion of emerging-market debt at Massachusetts Financial Services in Boston. Only Brazil’s real is free-floating. India imposes capital controls to protect the rupee.

China and India are “highly restrictive on the local debt side” and Russia has “quite an illiquid market” for foreign investors, said Cristina Panait, an emerging-market strategist at Los Angeles-based Payden & Rygel, which manages more than $50 billion. “Currency performance is a big portion of returns.”

The real rallied 11.2 percent last month, the ruble gained 6.9 percent and the rupee rose 6.4 percent against the dollar. The yuan appreciated 21 percent between July 2005, when the government allowed it to trade more freely, and July 2008. China has prevented the currency from strengthening since then as the economy slowed.

The Chinese government today sold 28.27 billion yuan ($4.13 billion) of yuan-denominated bonds maturing in 2019.

IMF Bonds
Political and financial leaders in the BRIC countries say they want to take a larger role in the world financial system as their foreign reserves swell and the U.S. economy endures its worst crisis since the 1930s. The Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against those of six trading partners, has dropped 9.4 percent from a three-year high in March.

The BRICs account for 15 percent of the world economy and hold $2.8 trillion in foreign-currency reserves, or about 42 percent of the total, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Last week, Russia and Brazil announced plans to buy $20 billion of bonds from the International Monetary Fund, after China said it was considering purchasing $50 billion of the securities. The purchases would both support the IMF, established to help nations rebuild from the ruins of World War II, and diversify some of their holdings.

Too Early
The BRIC leaders, among the biggest holders of U.S. assets, alternate between critiques of the dollar and support. Premier Wen Jiabao called in March for the U.S. “to guarantee the safety of China’s assets” and central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan the same month proposed a new global currency to reduce reliance on the dollar.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on June 2 Chinese leaders hadn’t expressed concern about the safety of U.S. debt during meetings in Beijing and said they “expect the dollar to be the principal reserve currency for a long period of time.”

Medvedev said earlier this month that the dollar wasn’t in a “spectacular position.” On June 13, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin reassured investors of the country’s confidence in the greenback by saying it was “still early to speak of other reserve currencies.”

Treasury Holdings
In May, China and Brazil began studying a proposal to move away from the dollar to settle trade and use yuan and reais instead. Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega said on June 10 the government’s decision to switch reserves into IMF bonds wasn’t aimed at weakening the dollar.

China and Russia agreed to use each other’s currencies more in bilateral trade to lessen dependence on the dollar, Medvedev told reporters in the Kremlin today after talks with Hu.

The leaders of the BRIC nations didn’t discuss the possibility of buying each other’s bonds during the summit in Yekaterinburg yesterday, Brazil’s Lula told reporters today in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

China trimmed its holdings of U.S. Treasuries by $4.4 billion to $763.5 billion in April, Russia’s slipped by $1.4 billion to $137 billion and Brazil’s by $600 million to $126 billion. In May, the BRIC nations spent more than $60 billion buying foreign currencies, mainly dollars, to stop their currencies from gaining, according to central bank data and strategist estimates.

While the ballooning budget deficit is keeping the U.S. reliant on foreign financing, the world’s biggest economy is almost double the size of Brazil, Russia, India and China combined, based on 2008 figures compiled by Bloomberg. America’s market sustains the world’s biggest developing nations, with China increasing sales to the U.S. to $337.7 billion last year from $321.4 billion in 2007.

‘Political Gesture’
The dollar accounted for 64 percent of central bank reserves worldwide at year-end, up from 62.8 percent in June 2008, according to the IMF. The currency has underpinned exchange rates since the 1971 collapse of the Bretton Woods system, which linked their value to gold.

Statements about changing the global foreign exchange system are “just a political gesture,” said Pablo Cisilino, who manages $10 billion in emerging-market debt at Stone Harbor Investment Partners in New York. “At the end of the day, there is only one reserve currency on the planet.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Laura Cochrane in London at

Xinhua    June 29, 2009

China bars use of virtual money for trading in real goods
 PRC, Ministry of Commerce

China has unveiled the first official rule on the use of virtual currency in the trade of real goods and services to limit its possible impact on the real financial system.

The government also spelled out the definition of "virtual currency" for the first time, which includes prepaid cards of cyber-games, according to a joint circular from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce Friday.

"The virtual currency, which is converted into real money at a certain exchange rate, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services." it said.

China has the world's largest population of Internet users, with 298 million people online as of the end of last year.

According to media reports, the virtual money trade topped several billion yuan last year after rising around 20 percent annually.

Since 2007, virtual money trading has drawn official attention, with the government demanding tighter controls as such trading became an avenue for gambling and illicit trade.

Under the new rules, using virtual money for gambling will be punished by public security authorities, and minors may not buy virtual money.

The Ministry of Culture also vowed to step up supervision on money laundering via virtual credits and other illegal online activities.

The most popular Chinese online credits are "QQ coins" issued by Tencent. com, which has at least 220 million registered users. In a media statement Saturday, the company said it "resolutely" supported the new rule.

The statement said Tencent had strongly opposed the underground trading of virtual money, which could enable online theft and fraud. The company would work with the authorities to combat online crimes, according to the statement.

Cui Ran, an expert on the Chinese online industry, said the regulation aimed to "nip illegal online activities in the bud," as current trading volume was still too small to shake the nation's entire financial system.

But as the trade expanded steadily, with increasing conversions between virtual and real money, there would be an impact on the financial system, he noted.

July 1, 2009

In China, New Limits on Virtual Currency
(see also: Ministry of Commerce: Statement on Use of Virtual Money)

SHANGHAI — The buying and selling of the make-believe currencies used in online gaming has become so widespread that Chinese authorities fear it will affect the real economy.

To quell that threat, those authorities said on Tuesday that they had issued new regulations aimed at restricting the trade and use of virtual money.

China is one of the world’s biggest markets for huge so-called multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft, and tens of millions of young people are believed to be trading virtual goods and credits for real goods and cash.

The coin of fantasy realms have already moved markets here. So-called QQ coins — a form of currency produced by the Chinese Internet giant Tencent — have sometimes risen sharply in value against China’s official currency, the renminbi, alarming officials at the nation’s Central Bank.

Some people have even traded virtual currencies in China, and exchanged them for clothes, cosmetics and other goods.

Last year, nearly $2 billion in virtual currency was traded in China, according to the China Internet Network Information Center. Some experts say they believe there is a much larger underground economy in the virtual world.

Most of China’s big Internet companies — like, Netease and Tencent — have some gaming component and virtual currencies have grown up alongside many of them.

Some smaller gaming companies have even set up what are called virtual sweatshops, cramped quarters where young people play online games to earn credits that the companies then sell at a profit to overseas customers in Taiwan, South Korea and even the United States.

This practice is popularly known in the online gaming community as gold farming.

Many online marketplaces, like eBay and China’s Taobao, even have online advertisements offering virtual goods for sale, like World of Warcraft gold coins and virtual swords for the game Legend of Swordmen.

Edward Castronova, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington who says he believes virtual currencies could pose a threat to world economies, applauded Beijing’s move.

“This action shows that at least one government is concerned about the way virtual worlds challenge its control of society,” Professor Castronova said in an e-mail message Tuesday. “As virtual currencies take over more and more purchasing power, control over the effective money supply shifts from the central bank to the game developers."

On Tuesday, China said that new regulations would restrict the trading and use of virtual money, and that virtual currencies would be banned from being exchanged for goods.

The government also said it was moving to fight online gambling and disputes over virtual coins.

In a release, Beijing said that while virtual currencies had helped promote online gaming, they have “also brought new economic and social problems.”

Beijing has repeatedly sought to tame the online gaming market with new regulations (and even Internet addiction camps) but the activity continues to grow.

The new rules, issued jointly last weekend by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Culture in Beijing, are the government’s strongest effort yet to tame virtual money.

The regulations were widely circulated just as Beijing announced it would delay adoption of a widely criticized plan to install software that was supposed to censor pornographic and other “unhealthy” Web sites in all personal computers sold in China.

Richard Ji, an Internet analyst at Morgan Stanley, released a brief report Tuesday saying he expected only limited financial impact on Chinese gaming companies because much of the trading in virtual currencies and goods does not occur on the sites of big, publicly listed gaming companies, he says; it occurs on other Web sites.

Financial Times    July 1, 2009

Debt is capitalism’s dirty little secret
By Ben Funnell

Just why is there so much debt in the Anglo-Saxon world? Bankers and regulators know well that it is in nobody’s long-term interests to have allowed borrowing to escalate to a position where the US now owes far more, as a multiple of the economy, than at the start of the Great Depression.

The answer is capitalism’s dirty little secret: excessive lending was the only way to maintain the living standards of the vast bulk of the population at a time when wealth was being concentrated in the hands of an elite.

The amount by which the elite has benefited is startling, and illustrates the problem with lightly regulated free markets: the rich get much richer while the rest do not get richer at all. According to Société Générale economists, the inflation-adjusted income of the highest-paid fifth of US earners has risen by 60 per cent since 1970, while it has fallen by more than 10 per cent for the rest. As was recently pointed out in the New York Review of Books, the Walton family, of Wal-Mart fame, is wealthier than the bottom third of the US population put together – about 100m people. These are staggering statistics, confirmed by measures such as the US and UK’s ever-rising Gini coefficients, which estimate income disparity. Another way of putting this is that the share of profits in gross domestic product is at a 100-year high, or was until very recently.

Put simply, the benefits of economic growth have gone into the pockets of plutocrats rather than the bulk of the population. So why has there been no revolution? Because there was a solution: debt. If you couldn’t earn it, you could borrow it. Cheap financing was made widely available. Financial innovations such as the asset-backed securities market aided this process, as did government-sponsored agencies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Regulators welcomed it all while perhaps taking insufficient account of the moral hazard problem it posed: that ever-increasing leverage meant the authorities had to keep interest rates low, otherwise the debt burden would cripple consumption. This prompted more leverage, which exacerbated the problem.

A walk in any low-income area in the UK confirms this. There are BMWs in the driveways, satellite dishes on the roofs and furniture delivery vans on the streets. In both Britain and America the jobless were encouraged to buy their own homes. No one begrudges anyone else the right to own a home or buy luxury goods. The problem is that the luxuries need to be paid for out of earnings and the houses out of equity topped up with an affordable amount of debt.

The question is whether the debt load – total US credit market debt outstanding was $53,000bn (€38,000bn, £32,000bn) at the end of March, or 3.7 times GDP – is at all sustainable and, if not, how it can be lowered without sinking the economy. Those pushing extra debt in an effort to boost the economy via increased consumption point to the scale of assets backing the debt. The net worth of US households, including their houses and after counting debt, was $50,000bn in March, according to the Fed. Not a bad tally for 306m people: $165,000 each. However, the cost of servicing this debt as a proportion of income, even with record low rates, is at a 30-year high, above 15 per cent, as incomes have stagnated and the total level of debt has risen.

The debt burden has to come down, which means more saving and lower economic growth for many years to come. Along the way inflation is likely to return, probably sooner and more violently than most expect, which will prompt investors to demand a higher return and make it even harder for governments to tackle the debt. At best the debt will fall slowly over many cycles and simply trim otherwise resilient growth. At worst it could cause growth to lurch upwards before tumbling again, with all the attendant uncertainty that entails. At this point, no one can know which is more likely. I incline to the more benign view because of the size of household assets but, if the dollar’s reserve currency status should come under serious attack, rates would have to rise to defend it and that could itself cause a consumption crisis.

What can be done? First, although it is not ideal, we should not be too hasty about abandoning the capitalist model. It is less bad than any other system yet invented. But we should redouble our efforts to increase productivity through innovation and creating new markets; simply squeezing lower-income workers is a bad option, which helped get us into this mess in the first place. This requires investment in education and research. Second, we have to learn to live within our means. This means spending less than we earn, perhaps doing without the BMWs, flat-screen television sets and leather sofas. Third, we should be careful in distributing the higher tax burden that we will inevitably have to bear over the coming decade. Very high marginal tax rates did not work in the 1970s and will not work now. That said, income disparity at current levels is a political time-bomb that needs to be dealt with. Finally, we should all come to terms with the fact that these are structural issues needing structural solutions; they need to be enforced over a longer time period than any one government’s term. So we need a new political consensus, one aimed at reducing overall debt levels while reducing inequality by encouraging education, entrepreneurship and investment in innovation.

The writer is an asset manager at GLG Partners    July 10, 2009  18.33

China Appoints Chief for Yuan's Global Push

Caijing has learned of key appointments at the central bank which will affect the yuan and may signal monetary policy changes.
By staff reporter Wen Xiu  -  Related Article: Mapping Out a Global Path for the Yuan

( China's cabinet has put the current head of China's foreign exchange agency, Hu Xiaolian, in charge of a soon-to-be-formed special monetary policy office to promote internationalization of China's currency, the yuan.

Hu Xiaolian

Caijing learned that Hu, 51, has been named by the State Council to head the Monetary Policy Department II, which is soon to open at the People's Bank of China, the central bank, as part of a government push to globalize the yuan for trade.

The State Council also approved the appointment of Yi Gang, deputy president of China's central bank, to replace Hu as director of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

The personnel swap came at a time of growing speculation that China may tighten what's now a loose monetary policy. The appointments also could fuel speculation that the central bank may take new steps aimed at draining excess liquidity and preventing inflation.

Yi's appointment was expected to be made public soon, according to senior management sources at SAFE and the central bank. Bank officials nominated Yi in May and later submitted the official proposal to the State Council.

Yi Gang

Hu is the third-highest ranking vice president at the central bank. She is considered an expert in China's fight against so-called "hot money."

China has been advocating a broader role for the yuan on the world's financial stage.

China recently signed currency swap agreements with several key trading partners, including Brazil and Argentina. In addition, China has launched a pilot program for using the yuan in bilateral trade settlements.    July 10, 2009  18.33

Mapping Out a Global Path for the Yuan

A government effort to ease the yuan into cross-border trading is moving forward, although finding the best route has been tricky.
By staff reporters Wen Xiu, Zhang Man and Wang Ziwu  - Related Article: China Appoints Chief for Yuan's Global Push

(Caijing Magazine) After months of uncertainty, a pilot program for yuan-based trade settlement took a substantial step forward when the People's Bank of China, the central bank, recently released new rules for cross-border transactions.

That same day – July 2 -- Shanghai officials said they were ready to launch the first transaction for a program approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, almost three months earlier.

The Standing Committee of the State Council decided April 8 that five cities would be allowed to launch yuan settlement for cross-border trade. But according to a central bank source, that committee meeting ended without an agreement on implementation measures, leaving work on complex details to government agencies and banks. And Shanghai's program launch stumbled and had to be suddenly canceled for "technical reasons."

Indeed, more work will be needed before the yuan is elevated to international currency level. Questions about exchange procedures, tax rebates and the yuan's appreciation are still shadowing the process.

Monetary Complexities

The day after the State Council ruling in April, the central bank brought together officials from various government agencies to discuss provisions in the draft rules. Beijing's goal was to release a full set of administrative rules in May.

But sorting out the details was far more complicated than originally thought. This complexity has been blamed for a long pre-launch period. Now, according to the central bank source, amending the rule is being handled as a systematic project.

Yuan settlement touches all kinds of issues. Systematic supervision and review procedures are for transactions, which involve opening new accounts, receipts, account balance management and customs supervision. Other top issues involve arranging yuan settlements inside and outside China, bank transactions, tax rebates for foreign trade.

Government agencies are keenly interested in tax rebating. A source told Caijing that, with the pilot's launch, certain import and export transactions would no longer need foreign exchange receipts and verifications, both used to be under the supervision of state administration of foreign exchange. This development will increase supervisory risks among taxation administrations. The settlement rule calls for tracking export data to help determine export tax rebates.

Wang Yongli, a deputy governor at the Bank of China, said in an interview with Caijing that export tax rebate issues can be resolved through use of an accounting currency. Two currency symbols would be adopted: one for yuan circulated within China; the other for yuan used in cross-border trade settlements. Customs officials can better track each kind of deal and decide whether to issue tax rebates.

A source at the State Administration of Taxation told Caijing his agency had studied export tax rebate and yuan settlement issues. As part of the study, opinions were solicited from other government bodies. New policy is expected in the near future.

Le Temps    13 juillet 2009

Le dollar peine toujours plus à garder sa prééminence mondiale
Par Alessandro Scipioni

Les grands pays émergents veulent changer le système. Le coût sera néanmoins très élevé
Les chefs d’Etat réunis la semaine dernière, lors du sommet du G8, ont soigneusement évité de parler du dollar, dont le rôle au centre du système financier mondial est de plus en plus remis en question. Le débat avait été relancé, en mars dernier, lorsque le gouverneur de la Banque Populaire de Chine, Zhou Xiaochuan, avait déclaré que le DTS (droit de tirage spécial), unité de compte du FMI (Fonds monétaire international), allait remplacer le billet vert et s’imposer comme «monnaie de réserve supra-souveraine». D’autres pays, notamment l’Inde, ont repris ces propos. Le silence du G8 sur le sujet ne fait qu’exacerber les tensions géopolitiques qui se dessinent autour du statut de la devise américaine.

Il faut dire que les déséquilibres macroéconomiques sont de taille. Le solde du compte courant aux Etats-Unis, structurellement déficitaire en raison d’un excès d’importations systématique, a transformé ce pays en plus grand emprunteur du monde. Une position de débiteur net, qui s’accroît de plus en plus vite, reflétant l’accumulation de ses dettes envers l’étranger. Il n’est donc pas étonnant de voir ses créanciers évoquer l’abandon du dollar comme système de mesure de la richesse.

Monnaies régionales
Evidemment, la question est de savoir ce qui pourrait remplacer la monnaie américaine? L’euro est la première réponse qui vient à l’esprit. D’une certaine manière, la devise européenne a déjà commencé à jouer partiellement ce rôle, puisque les banques centrales à travers le monde s’en servent pour diversifier leurs réserves officielles. Les pays du golfe Persique avaient même proposé d’utiliser la monnaie unique pour coter le prix du baril de pétrole. Mais Washington s’y était opposé fermement de crainte qu’une appréciation de la devise européenne ne renchérisse le prix des importations américaines, freinant ainsi l’activité outre-Atlantique. Les producteurs d’or noir ont finalement écarté cette idée pour ne pas froisser leur principal client. Du moins, pour le moment.

Cet épisode montre bien que la fonction d’unité de compte d’une monnaie est essentielle pour contester le statut actuel de monnaie de référence du billet vert. En d’autres mots, la facturation des échanges ou la dénomination de la dette doit se faire dans une autre devise que le dollar pour prétendre rivaliser avec celui-ci. C’est, sans doute, ce qui pousse les pays sud-américains à évaluer l’idée de créer une monnaie régionale et une banque centrale de l’Amérique latine, comme l’a rappelé Rafael Correa, président de l’Equateur, en marge d’une réunion de l’ONU à New York en juin dernier. Il semblerait, en outre, que la Chine ait déjà signé, cette année, des accords bilatéraux avec l’Argentine et le Brésil pour effectuer leurs échanges commerciaux en yuans et non plus en dollars.

La perspective de substituer progressivement le billet vert par quelques monnaies régionales, et non pas uniquement par l’euro, s’impose petit à petit comme la solution la plus réaliste. D’ailleurs, Jean-Claude Trichet, président de la Banque centrale européenne, expliquait la semaine dernière qu’il était nécessaire, selon lui, «d’avoir plusieurs monnaies de réserve» et de «penser à la création de devises régionales de réserve».

Pour sa part, la suggestion du gouverneur de la Banque de Chine d’utiliser le DTS en remplacement du dollar pose un problème majeur. Déterminé par un panier de devises, qui comprend actuellement le dollar, l’euro, la livre sterling et le yen, le DTS n’est pas imprimé et ne sert pas de monnaie de facturation des échanges. Il est, dès lors, difficile de l’envisager comme un substitut valable au billet vert. Ce panier de devises est, toutefois, déjà employé comme réserve officielle dans les comptes des banques centrales, mais son poids relatif reste modeste.

Une solution plus radicale a été avancée par deux Américains, le milliardaire Steve Forbes et le controversé membre du Congrès Ron Paul. Ils suggèrent de revenir à un régime de change fixe, où l’or jouerait le rôle de garde-fou pour éviter toute création monétaire abusive. Le représentant du Texas rappelait, en début d’année, que «selon la Constitution, seuls l’or et l’argent ont cours légal aux Etats-Unis». Le problème est que, dans un tel système, les autorités monétaires américaines seraient contraintes de brimer le crédit, ce qui se traduirait par une baisse des importations et un rééquilibrage de leur déficit commercial. Outre le fait qu’une telle solution compromettrait la croissance de l’activité et l’emploi aux Etats-Unis, il est impensable que Washington se prive de son autonomie en matière de politique monétaire. De manière générale, un retour à un régime de change fixe paraît improbable.

Steinbrück défend le dollar
Bien sûr, certains dirigeants se veulent plus rassurants quant à l’avenir du billet vert. Peer Steinbrück, ministre allemand des Finances, déclarait à la veille du G8 qu’il est «improbable que le dollar perde son rôle de monnaie dominante». Malgré tout, sous l’impulsion des pays BRIC (Brésil, Russie, Inde et Chine), une refonte du système monétaire international devient de plus en plus inévitable. Côté russe notamment, le président Dmitri Medvedev confirmait, le 16 juin dernier, que le monde avait besoin d’une monnaie de réserve internationale autre que le dollar. Ce remaniement décrétera vraisemblablement la fin d’une époque, celle où le billet vert régnait en maître incontesté sur le commerce et les investissements. Le relais sera assumé par les pays qui oseront miser sur le développement de leur marché intérieur, au détriment de leurs exportations.

Le Temps    13 juillet 2009

Les déficits contraignent les Etats-Unis à emprunter toujours plus
Le billet vert, monnaie de réserve forcée
Par Alessandro Scipioni

Puisque les Etats-Unis importent structurellement plus qu’ils n’exportent, ils ont besoin d’une entrée nette de capitaux pour financer la différence. Cela signifie que les Etats-Unis doivent vendre plus d’actifs aux autres pays (par exemple des bons du Trésor), ou le cas échéant, emprunter plus. C’est ainsi que le Japon et la Chine ont accumulé, au fil des années, une grande quantité de titres américains, libellés en dollar, constituant de la sorte d’énormes réserves internationales.

La question que tout le monde se pose est de savoir si cette situation est soutenable à long terme. En d’autres mots, l’excès de consommation outre-Atlantique peut-il être continuellement financé par l’épargne des autres pays? En théorie, dans le régime de changes flottants actuel, cela n’est pas possible. Le dollar se déprécierait inlassablement face aux monnaies des pays exportateurs, augmentant ainsi les prix à l’importation et réduisant la demande globale américaine. Le déséquilibre commercial se dissiperait du même coup.

Le précédent de 1971
En pratique, le billet vert joue le rôle de monnaie de réserve internationale. Cela implique que si les autres pays veulent continuer d’exporter vers les Etats-Unis, ils n’ont d’autres options que de garder en réserve les dollars ou les dettes américaines. Le billet vert conserve ainsi sa valeur et le gouvernement peut continuer à mener des politiques fiscales et monétaires expansives, sans avoir à en subir les conséquences. Dans les années 1960, le général de Gaulle appelait ce phénomène le «droit de seigneuriage».

Mais les politiques de création monétaire unilatérale trouvent toujours leurs limites, peu importe le régime de change en vigueur. Ce fut le cas à l’époque du président américain Johnson (1963-1968), compromettant irrémédiablement le système de change de Bretton Woods. Son successeur, Richard Nixon, dut mettre un terme à la convertibilité du dollar en or en 1971. Ce sera encore le cas si les Etats-Unis s’acharnent à baser leur croissance sur le crédit débridé.

Washington Post    November 2, 2009

Could America go broke?
By Robert J. Samuelson

The idea that the government of a major advanced country would default on its debt -- that is, tell lenders that it won't repay them all they're owed -- was, until recently, a preposterous proposition. Argentina and Russia have stiffed their creditors, but surely the likes of the United States, Japan or Britain wouldn't. Well, it's still a very, very long shot, but it's no longer entirely unimaginable. Governments of rich countries are borrowing so much that it's conceivable that one day the twin assumptions underlying their burgeoning debt (that lenders will continue to lend and that governments will continue to pay) might collapse. What happens then?

The question is so unfamiliar that the past provides few clues to the future. Psychology is crucial. To take a parallel example: the dollar. The fear is that foreigners (and Americans, too) will lose confidence in its value and dump it for yen, euros, gold or oil. If too many investors do that, a self-fulfilling stampede could trigger sell-offs in U.S. stocks and bonds. People have predicted such a crisis for decades. It hasn't happened yet. The currency's decline has been orderly, because the dollar retains a bedrock confidence based on America's political stability, openness, wealth and low inflation. But something could shatter that confidence -- tomorrow or 10 years from tomorrow.

The same logic applies to exploding government debt. We have moved into uncharted territory and are prisoners of psychology. Consider Japan. In 2009, its budget deficit -- the gap between spending and taxes -- amounts to 10 percent or more of gross domestic product (GDP). The total government debt -- the borrowing to cover all its deficits -- is approaching 200 percent of GDP. That's twice the size of its economy. The mountainous debt reflects years of slow economic growth, many "stimulus" plans, an aging society and the impact of the global recession. By 2019, the debt-to-GDP ratio could hit 300 percent, says a report from JPMorgan Chase.

No one knows how to interpret these numbers. If someone had predicted 20 years ago that Japan's debt would rise so spectacularly, the forecast would doubtlessly have inspired this alarm: Japan will pay crushing interest rates as fearful lenders demand high returns to compensate for the risk that government might default or inflate away its debt. Instead, the opposite has happened. Japanese investors -- households, banks, insurers -- have absorbed 94 percent of the debt, reports JPMorgan. Interest rates on 10-year Japanese government bonds have dropped from 7.1 percent in 1990 to 1.4 percent now.

Superficially, it's possible to explain this. Japan has ample private savings to buy bonds; modest deflation -- falling prices -- makes low interest rates acceptable; and investors remain confident that new and maturing debt will be financed.

The American situation is similar. Despite huge deficits, interest rates on 10-year Treasury bonds have hovered around 3.5 percent. In time of financial crisis, investors have sought the apparent sanctuary of government bonds. But the correct conclusion to draw is not that major governments (such as Japan and the United States) can easily borrow as much as they want. It is that they can easily borrow as much as they want until confidence that they can do so evaporates -- and we don't know when, how or whether that may happen.

Wealthy societies everywhere face a similar dilemma. Debt is ballooning from already high levels. The Congressional Budget Office reckons the Obama administration's planned budgets would increase the debt-to-GDP ratio from 41 percent in 2008 to 82 percent in 2019. Higher interest rates would aggravate the debt burden. Anticipating higher rates, the CBO estimates annual interest payments on the federal debt at $799 billion in 2019, up from $170 billion in 2009. Even the size of exposed debt is unclear; adding Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's debts (effectively guaranteed by the government) to Treasury debt would raise the total sharply.

But containing debt by spending cuts or tax increases would involve wrenching and unpopular measures that might, perversely, weaken the economy and worsen deficits. In Japan, the existing value-added tax (national sales tax) of 5 percent would have to go to 12 percent, says JPMorgan, along with deep spending cuts. Against choices like that, some advanced country might decide that a partial or complete default, though dire, would be less damaging economically and politically than the alternatives.

Deprived of international or domestic credit, defaulting countries in the past have suffered deep economic downturns, hyperinflation, or both. The odds may be against a wealthy society tempting that fate, but even the remote possibility underlines the precariousness and the novelty of the present situation. The arguments over whether we need more "stimulus" (and debt) obscure the larger reality that past debt increasingly constricts governments' economic maneuvering room.

November 6, 2009

The Man Who Predicted the Depression
Ludwig von Mises explained how government-induced credit expansions
led to imbalances in the economy.

Ludwig von Mises was snubbed by economists world-wide as he warned of a credit crisis in the 1920s. We ignore the great Austrian at our peril today.

Mises’s ideas on business cycles were spelled out in his 1912 tome “Theorie des Geldes und der Umlaufsmittel” (”The Theory of Money and Credit”). Not surprisingly few people noticed, as it was published only in German and wasn’t exactly a beach read at that.

Taking his cue from David Hume and David Ricardo, Mises explained how the banking system was endowed with the singular ability to expand credit and with it the money supply, and how this was magnified by government intervention. Left alone, interest rates would adjust such that only the amount of credit would be used as is voluntarily supplied and demanded. But when credit is force-fed beyond that (call it a credit gavage), grotesque things start to happen.

Government-imposed expansion of bank credit distorts our “time preferences,” or our desire for saving versus consumption. Government-imposed interest rates artificially below rates demanded by savers leads to increased borrowing and capital investment beyond what savers will provide. This causes temporarily higher employment, wages and consumption.

Ordinarily, any random spikes in credit would be quickly absorbed by the system—the pricing errors corrected, the half-baked investments liquidated, like a supple tree yielding to the wind and then returning. But when the government holds rates artificially low in order to feed ever higher capital investment in otherwise unsound, unsustainable businesses, it creates the conditions for a crash. Everyone looks smart for a while, but eventually the whole monstrosity collapses under its own weight through a credit contraction or, worse, a banking collapse.

The system is dramatically susceptible to errors, both on the policy side and on the entrepreneurial side. Government expansion of credit takes a system otherwise capable of adjustment and resilience and transforms it into one with tremendous cyclical volatility.

“Theorie des Geldes” did not become the playbook for policy makers. The 1920s were marked by the brave new era of the Federal Reserve system promoting inflationary credit expansion and with it permanent prosperity. The nerve of this Doubting-Thomas, perma-bear, crazy Kraut! Sadly, poor Ludwig was very nearly alone in warning of the collapse to come from this credit expansion. In mid-1929, he stubbornly turned down a lucrative job offer from the Viennese bank Kreditanstalt, much to the annoyance of his fiancée, proclaiming “A great crash is coming, and I don’t want my name in any way connected with it.”

We all know what happened next. Pretty much right out of Mises’s script, overleveraged banks (including Kreditanstalt) collapsed, businesses collapsed, employment collapsed. The brittle tree snapped. Following Mises’s logic, was this a failure of capitalism, or a failure of hubris?

Mises’s solution follows logically from his warnings. You can’t fix what’s broken by breaking it yet again. Stop the credit gavage. Stop inflating. Don’t encourage consumption, but rather encourage saving and the repayment of debt. Let all the lame businesses fail—no bailouts. (You see where I’m going with this.) The distortions must be removed or else the precipice from which the system will inevitably fall will simply grow higher and higher.

Mises started getting some much-deserved respect once “Theorie des Geldes” was finally published in English in 1934. It is unfortunate that it required such a disaster for people to take heed of what was the one predictive, scholarly explanation of what was happening.

But then, just Mises’s bad luck, along came John Maynard Keynes’s tome “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” in 1936. Keynes was dapper, fresh and sophisticated. He even wrote in English! And the guy had chutzpah, fearlessly fighting the battle against unemployment by running the currency printing press and draining the government’s coffers.

He was the anti-Mises. So what if Keynes had lost his shirt in the stock-market crash. His book was peppered with fancy math (even Greek letters) and that meant rigor, modernity. To add insult to injury, Mises wasn’t even refuted by Keynes and his ilk. He was ignored.

Fast forward 70-some years, during which we saw Keynesianism’s repeated disappointments, the end of the gold standard, persistent inflation with intermittent inflationary recessions and banking crises, culminating in Alan Greenspan’s “Great Moderation” and a subsequent catastrophic collapse in housing and banking. Where do we find ourselves? At a point of profound insight gained through economic logic, trial and error, and objective empiricism? Or right back where we started?

With interest rates at zero, monetary engines humming as never before, and a self-proclaimed Keynesian government, we are back again embracing the brave new era of government-sponsored prosperity and debt. And, more than ever, the system is piling uncertainties on top of uncertainties, turning an otherwise resilient economy into a brittle one.

How curious it is that the guy who wrote the script depicting our never ending story of government-induced credit expansion, inflation and collapse has remained so persistently forgotten. Must we sit through yet another performance of this tragic tale?

Mr. Spitznagel is the founder and chief investment officer of the hedge fund Universa Investments LP, based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The Daily Capitalist    November 7, 2009

Mises: The Man Who Predicted the Depression
By Jeff Harding.

I’ve been meaning to write a piece on Ludwig von Mises, the greatest economist who ever lived, and, if you will, a hero of mine. This is a piece from the Op-Ed page of the Wall Street Journal by Mark Spitznagel. Spitznagel is the head of Universa Investments and is a protege and partner of Nassim Taleb of Black Swan fame. Those of you who have been following this blog know of my admiration of Mr. Taleb. He and Mr. Spitznagel were “right,” and Universa made a lot of money for their investors from our economic crisis.

Mises had as big a brain as you can get, and,  in the social sciences field, he is the equivalent of Albert Einstein. His masterpiece, Human Action, was the summation of his ideas and philosophy. To explain his ideas would take some time. The thing is, it’s difficult stuff. But, to use an analogy, he created a “unified field theory” equivalent for the social sciences. That is, he started with the basics, epistemology (the science of who you know what you know) and worked up from there, and created a complete explanation of human action, especially as an economic being.

His scholarship is peerless, his ideas are timeless, and, as Spitznagel puts it, he was “right.” And still is. I don’t mean to be hagiographic here, but he’s that important of a scholar. I actually met Mises and his wife just before he died. I recall bringing my copy of Human Action along, but I was too shy to actually ask him to autograph it, although he and his wife were very gracious.

For those who wish to know more about Mises, there is plenty of information at the Mises Institute. I highly recommend his biography, Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism, a massive work but is virtually a history of economics.

January 14, 2011

Sacrificing Microcredit for Megaprofits
By MUHAMMAD YUNUS, Dhaka, Bangladesh

IN the 1970s, when I began working here on what would eventually be called “microcredit,” one of my goals was to eliminate the presence of loan sharks who grow rich by preying on the poor. In 1983, I founded Grameen Bank to provide small loans that people, especially poor women, could use to bring themselves out of poverty. At that time, I never imagined that one day microcredit would give rise to its own breed of loan sharks.

But it has. And as a result, many borrowers in India have been defaulting on their microloans, which could then result in lenders being driven out of business. India’s crisis points to a clear need to get microcredit back on track.

Troubles with microcredit began around 2005, when many lenders started looking for ways to make a profit on the loans by shifting from their status as nonprofit organizations to commercial enterprises. In 2007, Compartamos, a Mexican bank, became Latin America’s first microcredit bank to go public. And this past August, SKS Microfinance, the largest bank of its kind in India, raised $358 million in an initial public offering.

To ensure that the small loans would be profitable for their shareholders, such banks needed to raise interest rates and engage in aggressive marketing and loan collection. The kind of empathy that had once been shown toward borrowers when the lenders were nonprofits disappeared. The people whom microcredit was supposed to help were being harmed. In India, borrowers came to believe lenders were taking advantage of them, and stopped repaying their loans.

Commercialization has been a terrible wrong turn for microfinance, and it indicates a worrying “mission drift” in the motivation of those lending to the poor. Poverty should be eradicated, not seen as a money-making opportunity.

There are serious practical problems with treating microcredit as an ordinary profit-maximizing business. Instead of creating wholesale funds dedicated to lending money to microfinance institutions, as Bangladesh has done, these commercial organizations raise larger sums in volatile international financial markets, and then transmit financial risks to the poor.

Furthermore, it means commercial microcredit institutions are subject to demands for ever-increasing profits, which can only come in the form of higher interest rates charged to the poor, defeating the very purpose of the loans.

Some advocates of commercialization say it’s the only way to attract the money that’s needed to expand the availability of microcredit and to “liberate” the system from dependence on foundations and other charitable donors. But it is possible to harness investment in microcredit — and even make a profit — without working through either charities or global financial markets.

Grameen Bank, where I am managing director, has 2,500 branches in Bangladesh. It lends out more than $100 million a month, from loans of less than $10 for beggars in our “Struggling Members” program, to micro-enterprise loans of about $1,000. Most branches are financially self-reliant, dependent only on deposits from ordinary Bangladeshis. When borrowers join the bank, they open a savings account. All borrowers have savings accounts at the bank, many with balances larger than their loans. And every year, the bank’s profits are returned to the borrowers — 97 percent of them poor women — in the form of dividends.

More microcredit institutions should adopt this model. The community needs to reaffirm the original definition of microcredit, abandon commercialization and turn back to serving the poor.

Stricter government regulation could help. The maximum interest rate should not exceed the cost of the fund — meaning the cost that is incurred by the bank to procure the money to lend — plus 15 percent of the fund. That 15 percent goes to cover operational costs and contribute to profit. In the case of Grameen Bank, the cost of fund is 10 percent. So, the maximum interest rate could be 25 percent. However, we charge 20 percent to the borrowers. The ideal “spread” between the cost of the fund and the lending rate should be close to 10 percent.

To enforce such a cap, every country where microloans are made needs a microcredit regulatory authority. Bangladesh, which has the most microcredit borrowers per square mile in the world, has had such an authority for several years, and it is devoted to ensuring transparency in lending and prevented excessive interest rates and collection practices. In the future, it may be able to accredit microfinance banks. India, with its burgeoning microcredit sector, is most in need of a similar agency.

There are always people eager to take advantage of the vulnerable. But credit programs that seek to profit from the suffering of the poor should not be described as “microcredit,” and investors who own such programs should not be allowed to benefit from the trust and respect that microcredit banks have rightly earned.

Governments are responsible for preventing such abuse. In 1997, then First Lady Hillary Clinton and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh met with other world leaders to commit to providing 100 million poor people with microloans and other financial services by 2005. At the time, it looked like an utterly impossible task, but by 2006 we had achieved it. World leaders should come together again to provide the powerful and visionary leadership to help steer microcredit back on course.

Muhammad Yunus, the founder of Grameen Bank, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.

NZZ am Sonntag    16. Januar 2011,

Mikrofinanz im Fokus
Ein Wundermittel unter Beschuss
Die Idee der Mikrokredite ist über Nacht in Verruf geraten. Zu Recht?
Charlotte Jacquemart

Am Freitag hat die Regierung Bangladeshs laut der führenden Zeitung des Landes «The Daily Star» den Nobelpreisträger Muhammad Yunus von der Spitze «seiner» Grameen Bank entfernt. Kaum etwas kann die Krise, in der die Mikrofinanz steckt, besser veranschaulichen. Die Grameen Bank, von Yunus 1983 als erste Mikrofinanzinstitution (MFI) gegründet, steht wie nichts sonst auf der Welt für die Idee der Mikrokredite (siehe Box).

Für seine Verdienste im Kampf gegen die Armut ist der Bangale 2006 mit dem Friedensnobelpreis ausgezeichnet worden. Seit einigen Wochen nun stehen die Verleiher von Mikrokrediten am Pranger: zum einen, weil sich in Indien überschuldete Bauern das Leben genommen haben. Schuld daran sollen Mehrfachkredite zu Wucherzinsen sein, die den Armen aufgeschwatzt wurden. Zum anderen, weil die grösste MFI des Landes, die SKS Microfinance, an die Börse ging und dabei mit einer Eigenkapitalrendite von 24% warb. Darf das sein, wo Mikrokredite doch dazu da sind, die Armut zu tilgen?

In Indien stehen plötzlich viele MFI vor dem Aus. Der Aufruf von Politikern an die Armen, den «Kredithaien» die Mikrokredite nicht zurückzuzahlen, wirkt. Bei der zweitgrössten MFI Spandana sind 15 Jahre lang 100% der Kredite zurückbezahlt worden. Jetzt sind es noch 2%.

Ist die Mikrofinanz ein «Blutsauger-System», wie es zurzeit dargestellt wird? Mihir Bhatt, renommierter Chef des AIDMI (All India Disaster Mitigation Institute), glaubt, dass die Kritik ernst genommen werden muss. «Es ist eine wichtige Frage, ob die Mikrofinanz nur noch eine Geldmaschine ist oder ihrem ursprünglichen Ziel, die Armut zu reduzieren, noch dient.» Nötig wäre dies: Laut Weltbank müssen rund 4 Mrd. Menschen mit weniger als 4 $ pro Tag auskommen. 2,7 Mrd. haben keinen Zugang zu formellen Finanzdienstleistungen; die Hälfte aller Haushalte weltweit besitzt kein Bankkonto. Kein anderes System habe die Armut bisher derart wirkungsvoll bekämpft wie die Mikrofinanz, sagt Bhatt. Institute, die das System missbrauchten, seien gezielt in die Schranken zu weisen, fordert der Inder.

An der Universität Basel teilt man diese Ansicht. Das Geografische Institut unter der Leitung von Rita Schneider-Sliwa arbeitet seit dem schweren Erdbeben im indischen Gliedstaat Gujarat 2001 mit Bhatt zusammen. Der Schweizer Geograf Andreas Pecnik ist als wissenschaftlicher Berater und Mitinitiant des Basler Projektes seit 2003 regelmässig vor Ort. Pecnik sagt: «In der Erdbebenregion Gujarat, wo man der betroffenen armen Bevölkerung nach dem Beben Zugang zu Mikrofinanz bereitgestellt hat, ist der sozioökonomische Status der Slum-Bewohner heute deutlich besser als vor dem Beben.» Allerdings müsse man den Umgang mit Krediten schulen. Genau das lief in der indischen Provinz Andhra Pradesh schief. Der Wettbewerb unter den Anbietern führte dort dazu, dass zu viele Kredite ohne Schulung oder Kontrolle vergeben wurden. Seit je erhitzen sich die Gemüter auch an der Höhe der Zinssätze. Die absolute Zinshöhe ist für Bhatt weniger entscheidend als die Frage, wer davon profitiert. «Wenn die Zinszahlung als Überschuss in die MFI zurückfliesst, kommt das Geld wieder den Armen zu. Gehen hohe Überschussrenditen an private Kapitalgeber, ist es falsch.» Wo genau die Grenze zu ziehen ist, ist schwierig. Beim Aussendepartement EDA sagt Sprecher Stefan von Below: «Wenn Investoren exzessive Gewinne in die eigenen Taschen stecken, ist dies aus ethischer Sicht sicher zu kritisieren.» In der Schweizer Entwicklungszusammenarbeit räume man der Sparförderung heute mehr Priorität ein. Denn für arme Menschen sei es wichtiger, durch Sparen eine Rücklage für die Not zu schaffen, als ihre so schon hohen Risiken durch einen Kredit mit Rückzahlungsverpflichtung zu erhöhen, glaubt von Below.

Sparen statt Kredit? Klaus Tischhauser, CEO von ResponsAbility Social Investments, die aus Zürich heraus einen Mikrokreditfonds führt, unterstützt den Gedanken. Zumal die Spargelder wiederum in den Kreditkreislauf einflössen. Nur, fragt Tischhauser kritisch: «Wer bietet in einem Slum Sparprodukte an?» Auch dafür brauche es MFI, die gar über eine Bankenlizenz verfügen müssten, um Depoteinlagen entgegennehmen zu dürfen. Tischhauser verteidigt das Kapital ausländischer Anleger, das via Fonds in die Mikrofinanz fliesst. Angesichts der grossen Kreditnachfrage seien viele MFI auf ausländische Kapitalströme angewiesen. Selbst Börsengänge von MFI sind für Tischhauser kein Tabu. «Weil sich das dringend benötigte Kapital ab einer gewissen Grössenordnung nicht anders finden lässt.»

Zurzeit würde die Debatte um Mikrokredite von Politikern dazu missbraucht, von den wahren Problemen abzulenken, meint Tischhauser. Das Problem der verarmten Bauern in Indien seien nicht die Mikrokredite, sondern ihre Abhängigkeit von einer landwirtschaftlichen Tätigkeit, die zu wenig hergebe, um zu überleben. Bauern würden in die Arme von «money lenders» getrieben, die täglich bis zu 20% Zinsen verlangten – nicht jährlich wie bei seriösen Mikrokrediten. Jetzt könnten erfolgreichen MFI wegen Zinsobergrenzen, Verboten und dem Aufruf, Geld nicht zurückzuzahlen, das Aus drohen, so Tischhauser. Dabei gehe es den Politikern nur darum, ein System kaputtzumachen, das ihnen schon lange ein Dorn im Auge gewesen sei. «Was Erfolg hat, hat auch Feinde.»

Geringe Rendite
Gesicherte Zahlen zum globalen Mikrofinanzsystem gibt es nicht. Geschätzt wird, dass es mittlerweile rund 100 Mio. Mikrokreditnehmer gibt, bei denen 65 Mrd. $ an Krediten ausstehend sind. Der geschätzte Kapitalbedarf der Mikrofinanz wiederum wird mit 300 Mrd. $ veranschlagt. Weltweit soll es rund 10 000 Mikrofinanzinstitutionen (MFI) geben, wovon heute um die 1000 rentabel arbeiten sollen.

Als Geburtsland der Mikrokredite gilt Bangladesh. Von Südasien aus hat sich die Idee der Mini-Darlehen rund um den Globus ausgebreitet. Dank Mikrokrediten erhalten Haushalte mit sehr tiefem Einkommen Zugang zu Kapital, um Geschäftsideen umzusetzen und Unternehmergeist zu entwickeln. Die Zinssätze liegen üblicherweise zwischen 20% und 30% jährlich. Rund 90% der Kredite wird an Frauen verliehen. Immer mehr stehen neben Krediten heute Mikroversicherungen und Sparprodukte im Fokus. In der Schweiz können Anleger über den Mikrofinance Fund von ResponsAbility in Mikrokredite investieren. Die Zürcher verwalten 910 Mio. $, die über 338 MFI in 65 Ländern zu Kreditnehmern fliesst. Die Margen, welche die Mikrofonds im Westen erzielen, sind relativ bescheiden. Der Mikrofonds von ResponsAbility hat 2010 in Franken mit 1,44% rentiert, in Dollar mit 2,5%. (jac.)

Neue Zürcher Zeitung    19. Januar 2011

Jagd auf einen Nobelpreisträger
Der Erfinder des Mikrokredits steht in seiner Heimat Bangladesh wegen Verleumdung vor Gericht
Andrea Spalinger, Delhi

Gegen den Nobelpreisträger Mohammed Yunus, den Erfinder des Mikrokredits, läuft in Bangladesh ein Verleumdungs-Prozess. Zudem hat die Regierung eine Untersuchung gegen dessen Firma eingeleitet. Beide Schritte sind politisch motiviert.
Mohammed Yunus muss sich wegen Verleumdungsvorwürfen vor Gericht verantworten. (Bild: Reuters)

Der Friedensnobelpreisträger Mohammed Yunus steht in seiner Heimat Bangladesh derzeit politisch enorm unter Druck. Am Dienstag musste der 70-jährige Ökonom wegen Verleumdungs-Vorwürfen vor einem Gericht im Distrikt Memensingh, 100 Kilometer nördlich von Dhaka, erscheinen. Nach der Anhörung wurde Yunus gegen Kaution freigelassen. Der nächste Gerichtstermin findet am 20. Februar statt.

Beleidigte Politiker
Mohammed Yunus ist der Erfinder des Mikrokredits und hat dafür 2006 den Nobelpreis bekommen. Seine 1983 gegründete Grameen Bank vergibt Kleinstkredite an Millionen von Armen, die niemals einen normalen Bankkredit bekommen würden und deshalb zuvor von Kredithaien abhängig waren. Die Grameen Bank hat in den letzten Jahrzehnten insgesamt Kredite in der Höhe von 10 Milliarden Dollar vergeben und zählt derzeit über 8 Millionen Schuldner. Ausserdem hat Yunus auf der ganzen Welt Nachahmer gefunden.

2007 hatte der «Banker der Armen» in einem Interview erklärt, Bangladeshs Politikern gehe es nur ums Geld. Ideologien spielten in dem südasiatischen Land seit langem keine Rolle mehr. Die Mehrheit der Bevölkerung dürfte diesen Satz unterschreiben. Bangladeshs Politiker stehen im Ruf, durch und durch korrupt zu sein, und haben das Land seit seiner Unabhängigkeit 1971 durch ihre perfiden Machtkämpfe wiederholt ins politische Chaos gestürzt.

Ein Lokalpolitiker aus einer kleinen Linkspartei in Bangladesh fühlte sich durch die Aussage von Yunus schwer angegriffen und reichte eine Klage ein. Der Fall schlummerte eine Weile, doch nun ist er wieder ausgegraben worden. Hinter dem Schritt scheint politisches Kalkül zu stecken, stammt der besagte Politiker doch aus einer Partei, die mit der regierenden Awami-Liga verbündet ist. Die Premierministerin des Landes, Sheikh Hasina, kann Mohammed Yunus nicht ausstehen.

Der Mikrokredit-Pionier ist in Bangladesh sehr populär und hat sich wiederholt kritisch über die Politikerkaste geäussert. Während einer vom Militär gestützten Interimsregierung hatte Yunus 2007 zudem versucht, eine eigene Partei zu gründen, um die Dominanz der Awami-Liga und der Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) zu brechen. Er sah allerdings bald ein, dass er gegen deren allmächtige Parteichefinnen, Sheikh Hasina und Khaleda Zia, nichts ausrichten konnte, und gab das Ansinnen auf.

Sheikh Hasina scheint Mohammed Yunus bis heute nicht verziehen zu haben und hat dem Wirtschaftsprofessor kürzlich den Krieg erklärt. Sie bezeichnete die Mikrokredit-Firmen als «Blutsauger der Armen» und drohte Yunus rechtliche Schritte an. Die Verleumdungsklage ist nur einer davon. Im Dezember hatte die Regierungschefin bereits eine Untersuchung der Finanzen der Grameen Bank angeordnet. Dabei berief sie sich auf einen im November gesendeten norwegischen Dokumentarfilm, in dem der Grameen Bank vorgeworfen wurde, in den neunziger Jahren Hilfsgelder aus Oslo veruntreut zu haben. Eine von der norwegischen Regierung eingesetzte Untersuchungskommission hat das Finanzinstitut in der Zwischenzeit von den Vorwürfen freigesprochen. Sheikh Hasina bezichtigt die Bank aber weiterhin des Steuerbetruges.

Differenzierte Debatte nötig
Die Anhänger von Yunus befürchten, dass die Regierung plant, die Grameen Bank zu übernehmen. Dies wäre in der Tat eine Tragödie. Korrupte und unfähige Politiker sind dafür verantwortlich, dass Bangladesh mit einem jährlichen Pro-Kopf-Einkommen von 640 Dollar noch immer zu den ärmsten Ländern der Welt zählt. Weil sie versagt haben, sind heute Hunderte von Mikrokredit-Instituten und 2000 Nichtregierungsorganisationen im Land aktiv.

Das rasant expandierende Mikrokredit-Geschäft ist in den letzten Jahren zu einer regelrechten Industrie geworden und deshalb in jüngster Zeit auch im Nachbarland Indien in die Kritik geraten. Einigen Firmen wird vorgeworfen, exorbitant hohe Zinsen zu verlangen und das geschuldete Geld notfalls auch mit Gewalt einzutreiben. Viele Betroffene würden durch Mikrokredite nur weiter in die Not getrieben, meinen Kritiker warnend. Ausserdem werde in der Branche Geld veruntreut. Nach viel undifferenziertem Lob für das Wundermittel Mikrokredit täte eine kritischere Debatte über dessen Vor- und Nachteile auch in Bangladesh not. Die jüngsten Angriffe der Regierung auf Yunus haben damit aber wenig zu tun, sind sie doch allein politisch motiviert.

Asia Times    Aug 11, 2012

Death of the dollar
By Chan Akya

There is an old joke from Israel at the time of the first Gulf War, after national radio announced that the chances of any Israeli being hit by a Scud missile launched by Saddam Hussein was about the same as the probability of winning the national lottery. "Oh yeah," deadpanned a comic, "but they didn't tell us there would be three draws daily".

Amidst all the hoopla of the Olympic games, bankers in London will probably be thinking something similar after the scandals around Barclays and HSBC (see my previous articles "Who put the lie in Libor", Asia Times Online, July 7, 2012, and "Laundry of your choice", Asia Times Online, July 21, 2012) have now led to a scathing report about London-based bank Standard Chartered involving alleged violations of United States sanctions on Iran. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) in New York, one of the alphabet soup of banking regulators in the US, went so far to declare the bank a "rogue institution".

This is sensational stuff, but unfortunately also sensationalist in my opinion. Firstly, Standard Chartered is a well-run bank with an excellent top cadre of managers most of whom have been promoted from within the ranks of what is essentially an emerging markets bank with a strong focus on Asia and Africa. In that respect the bank is very similar (but arguably not as solid) to the core management principles of HSBC, another London-based giant.

Secondly, the amounts involved in these alleged breaches are miniscule: some US$14 million in remittances that were not fully compliant with the US rules and "may" have violated sanctions, according to the bank. The DFS statement of course claims much larger sums - up to $250 billion (casting aspersions on the entire gamut of a type of remittance from the Middle East) - and alleges other irregularities such as in "know your customer" policies and (perhaps most damaging) that the bank wailfully attempted to circumvent US sanctions.

Thirdly, I personally find it distasteful that US regulators are able to make allegations public without having to subject their suspicions to rigorous court processes. While a number of such allegations do end up with convictions, there is also growing evidence that banks in particular simply choose to settle the issues with the regulators albeit without admitting guilt while paying financial penalties (Goldman Sachs and Citibank are two US-based banks that certainly appear to have a history of such settlements).

The problem with such settlements of course is that we as members of the public never really know if the settlement was intended by the banks to repair potential reputational damage from a long-drawn out court trial, or was guilt actually involved. More troubling, once you have one bank or company agreeing to such a settlement, regulators are usually incentivized to pursue the same strategy with other targets even when the body of actual evidence is quite small and inconclusive.

As an example, the DFS has cited the outburst of a particular employee of Standard Chartered from their London office who abused Americans, and questioned the need for the rest of the world following US sanctions. This is an entirely logical point of view for non-Americans to have and by itself doesn't mean that a "crime" is being committed against the US. More importantly, the fact that the DFS played up this particular juicy titbit appears (to me) to suggest a strategy to sensationalize a case where actual evidence on the ground may be sparse.

I don't know much more about the details of the case, nor do I wish to speculate on how it may all turn out for a pretty good bank that seems to find itself in the cross-hairs of the US regulators.

Doubts about London
There are a number of questions now confronting London's status as a financial center: firstly, it is clear that politicians in continental Europe would like nothing better than destroying the city's pre-eminent position in financial services. Partly this effort is so that European politicians could push through certain anti-market principles such as the financial transactions tax (the so-called Tobin tax being promulgated by the French) and a ban on certain types of financial transactions such as sovereign credit default swaps that they believe are centered in London.

There is of course the deep envy that German regulators feel about the sheer irrelevance of Frankfurt as a global financial center, not to mention the deep resentment felt in France that even banks that survive due to government bailouts end up having significant operations, particularly those involving higher-paying jobs out of London.

Then there is the whole question of how financial regulators have operated in the UK, essentially being accused by their colleagues elsewhere in the world (Switzerland, the US, Germany, Italy to mention a few) of allowing roguish behavior from bankers peddling fairly dangerous financial instruments (collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, structured investment vehicles - SIVs - and whatever else have you) to unsuspecting investors elsewhere in the world. I have personally heard a couple of central bankers echoing those very thoughts about the UK's Financial Supervisory Authority.

More recently, US regulators have taken to blaming lax supervision in London for the travails of JP Morgan and its multi-billion losses on bets taken by the chief investment officer.

So, on paper at least, a number of points can be made that appear to highlight a systemic collapse of regulatory oversight in London - at least that's where the non-UK financial media appear to be pointing in their summary of the Standard Chartered case.

This is a tempting conclusion but also an intellectually lazy one.

Let us take the issue of the CDOs and SIVs that proliferated out of London but ended up damaging investors in the US, Germany, Switzerland and elsewhere. The suggestion behind the train of thought of course is that the British exported a financial opium that the rest of the world got pulled into without realizing the full costs. This is nonsensical, firstly because UK banks also suffered from the fallout - Northern Rock, RBS, Halifax - to name but a few. Even the ones that survived - Barclays, HSBC - did so mainly because of their global strength, even as their specific operations out of London were damaged massively.

More importantly, the investors in SIVs and CDOs were themselves lazy - by depending purely on a rating agency assessment of quality rather than doing their own homework, these investors simply failed to observe and follow the core principles of investing. If it hadn't been CDOs that blew them up, it could well have been something else.

The discussion around the role of London in promoting such exotic financial products also masks the regulatory and supervisory failures in the US, Germany and Switzerland to name but a few countries that were damaged. The central banks of these countries simply failed to monitor their "wards" and allowed reckless gambling on financial instruments that was eventually to fell many hundreds of thousand jobs.

Similarly, on the JP Morgan case it is clear that US regulators had nothing but praise for the London-based chief investment officer when they were making outsize profits (over 15% of the bank's total profits in some quarters) - indeed the sheer size of such profits should have invited intense scrutiny but did not because US regulators were and still are in awe of the bank and its senior management.

The case against London is weak. That doesn't of course mean that it won't succeed - if anything, I would say that chances of a knee jerk reaction from UK regulators to protect their global reputation may be quite high, with the resulting regulatory over-reach helping to destroy the city's financial services business rather effectively.

Status of the US dollar
The decline of London though may actually end up hurting the US and particularly the position of the US dollar as the global currency of choice.

There are a number of structural and geopolitical reasons for the dollar to lose its position, not the least of which is the country's yawning budget deficit and its lost wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The effect of the George W Bush / Dick Cheney "War on Terror" is such that Muslims around the world feel rather inclined to avoid the US currency entirely. Poor Muslims may prefer the US dollar to their own currencies controlled by tottering dotards; however, there is enough evidence that rich Muslims have simply diversified from US dollar bank accounts into British pound and euro accounts not to mention physical gold.

Among exporters of oil, the dichotomy is increasing: Russia, Iran and Venezuela all prefer to avoid oil payments in US dollars entirely; getting paid in Chinese yuan through bilateral currency swaps for example. As other countries such as Libya and Iraq re-emerge as oil exporters, it is quite possible that the influence of Islamists would help to initiate similar anti-US dollar policies.

A second set of reasons for the decline of the US dollar is the diminishing influence, globally, of US financial institutions. A number of household institutions - Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Citibank, Wachovia, Merrill Lynch - all have fallen by the wayside while amongst the survivors such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo there is a clear tendency to go "back to basics", ie the core US business, while eschewing their non-US presence. A number of financially strong institutions such as Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs no longer have the same access to global deals (and dealmakers) as in the days before the crisis.

As a financial center, London actually has been a gateway for a huge number of transactions that pump capital into the US economy. Bond, currency and rate markets essentially operate out of London - hence the recent fracas about the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor - while key segments of global financial services including insurance and hedge funds are based in the city. Reduce the role of London and it is very likely that the worst affected will be US financial markets as a number of market participants who are shut out of the market end up trading in other currencies such as the pound or euro, far from the prying eyes of US regulators.

A large number of Chinese, Russian and Middle Eastern banks operate out of London and evidence suggests that a large portion of this business ends up touching the US markets either through trade finance or capital transfers to US companies. Shut down their London operations and those banks will simply start using currencies other than the US dollar; they will simply not risk moving those businesses directly under the nose of US regulators.

Meanwhile the US stock market is itself in bubble territory, with underlying economic weakness being masked by one-off gains in profits and remittances that have helped to flatter results. Weakness in Asia and Europe has not been fully factored into US earnings; I therefore expect a significant downturn in equity valuations over the next six months or so.

Political rhetoric in the US isn't helping matters either, as the upcoming presidential election appears to cast further aspersions on US attitudes towards China. Already, there is clear evidence that China has been selling its US dollar furiously; any move towards trade wars (candidate Mitt Romney promises to label China a "currency manipulator" on the first day of his Presidency) only makes matters worse for the US dollar.

I wrote on the subject a long time ago (see "Dead Dollar Sketch", Asia Times Online, March 4, 2008). In the intervening years, the decline of the euro has helped to increase global acceptance of the US dollar as the next easy choice. History reminds us though that, time and again, the lack of alternatives is never a sufficient reason for the status quo to remain intact.

Tages-Anzeiger     21. September 2012

Der fleissigste Gelddrucker der Welt
Mark Dittli

Wer hat seine Geldmenge am meisten ausgeweitet? Im Bild: Produktion von Dollar-Noten. (Foto: Keystone)

Beginnen wir mit einer kleinen Preisfrage: Welche Zentralbank hat im Verlauf der vergangenen fünf Jahre die grösste Ausweitung der Geldmenge, in absoluten Zahlen, in ihrem Währungsraum zu verantworten?

Zur Auswahl stehen:

U. S. Federal Reserve
Bank of England
Europäische Zentralbank
Bank of Japan
People’s Bank of China
Schweizerische Nationalbank
Reserve Bank of India
Banco Central do Brasil
Die Antwort kommt gleich. Aber zunächst ein Blick zurück, denn die vergangenen zwei Wochen hatten es aus geldpolitischer Sicht in sich.

Am 6. September kündigte die EZB ihr neues «Outright Monetary Transaction»-Programm an (hier die Details dazu), eine Woche später folgte das Fed in Washington mit «Quantitative Easing 3» (hier die Details), und am 19. September folgte die Bank of Japan mit der Ankündigung, ihr unkonventionelles Anleihenkaufprogramm von 70 auf 80 Billionen Yen aufzustocken (hier die Details).

Kommt jetzt schon bald die grosse Inflation? Kaum. Wie Markus Diem Meier bereits in diesem Blogbeitrag argumentiert hat, ist die Furcht vor einem baldigen grossen Inflationsschub übertrieben. Weit bedenklicher sollten zwei andere Faktoren stimmen, nämlich dass erstens Fed-Chef Ben Bernanke bereits wieder drauf und dran ist, irgendwo an den Finanzmärkten eine neue Blase aufzupumpen (mehr dazu in diesem Kommentar) und dass sich zweitens die grossen Notenbanken der Welt auf ein «Race to the bottom» eingelassen haben, indem sie versuchen, ihre Währung gegenüber den anderen zu schwächen. Es dürfte nicht mehr lange dauern, bis auf hoher politischen Ebene das Wort «Währungskrieg» fällt.

(Nachtrag vom 21. September: Es ist bereits geschehen. Guido Mantega, Brasiliens Finanzminister, hat öffentlich von einem Währungskrieg gesprochen – hier die Details dazu.)

An den Finanzmärkten wurde die neue Geldschwemme jedenfalls mit Freude aufgenommen; seit der Ankündigung des Fed hat der S&P-500-Index in den USA knapp 2 Prozent gewonnen, in Europa steht der Euro Stoxx 50 Index seit dem Auftritt Mario Draghis am 6. September um etwas mehr als 5 Prozent im Plus. Der pawlowsche Reflex der Börse auf monetäre Stimuli (mehr dazu in diesem Blogbeitrag) hat sich einmal mehr bewiesen.

Kommen wir also zurück zur Frage, wer der grösste Gelddrucker der Welt ist.

Russell Napier, Investmentstratege des Hongkonger Brokerhauses CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets und Autor des sehr lesenserten Buches «Anatomy of the Bear», hat die folgende Tabelle zusammengestellt. Sie zeigt die breiteste Definition der Geldmenge in 16 ausgewählten Ländern respektive Währungsräumen (Quelle: CLSA):

Die erste Spalte zeigt die Geldmenge im Jahr 2007, in Lokalwährung, in Milliarden. In der zweiten Spalte hat Napier diesen Betrag in US-Dollar umgerechnet, und in der dritten Spalte gibt er den prozentualen Anteil der jeweiligen Währung an der (vereinfacht berechneten) Welt-Geldmenge an. Die US-Dollar-Geldmenge stellte im Jahr 2007 beispielsweise 21,7 Prozent der Welt-Geldmenge, an erster Stelle stand der Yen mit 29,5 Prozent.

Die folgenden fünf Spalten zeigen sodann die aktuellsten verfügbaren Werte: Wiederum zuerst die breit definierte Geldmenge in Lokalwährung, dann umgerechnet in Milliarden Dollar, dann der Anteil an der Welt-Geldmenge. Die beiden letzten Spalten zeigen das Wachstum der jeweiligen Geldmenge in Lokalwährung und in Dollar ausgedrückt. Demnach ist beispielsweise die M3-Geldmenge im Schweizer Franken um 31,4 Prozent von 624 auf 820 Milliarden Franken gestiegen. In Dollar ausgedrückt (weil der Dollar zum Franken kräftig an Wert verlor) stieg die Schweizer Geldmenge um 53,3 Prozent.

So weit, so gut. Bei einem genauen Blick auf Napiers Tabelle wird klar, dass sich die weitaus massivste Bewegung in China abgespielt hat. Dort ist die Geldmenge M2+ von umgerechnet 5,474 Billionen US-Dollar im Jahr 2007 auf aktuell 14,496 Billionen Dollar hochgeschnellt; ein Wachstum von 127,8 Prozent in Lokalwährungen oder 164,8 Prozent in Dollar.

Dagegen ist die M3-Geldmenge im US-Dollar im beobachteten Zeitraum nur um 25 Prozent auf 11,774 Billionen gestiegen, während sich M3 in der Eurozone (in Lokalwährung) sogar nur um 15 Prozent ausgeweitet hat. Fed und EZB mögen in den vergangenen Jahren ihre Bilanz zwar massiv ausgeweitet haben, aber die Zahlen zur breiten M3-Geldmenge zeigen eindrücklich, dass der Grossteil dieser monetären Stimuli gar nicht in der realen Wirtschaft ankommt.

Wird die seit 2007 weltweit neu geschöpfte Geldmenge kumuliert und wird dann eruiert, wer für welchen Teil verantwortlich ist, ergibt sich folgende Übersicht:

Die People’s Bank of China ist gemäss Berechnungen Napiers für nicht weniger 40 bis 45 Prozent der weltweiten Geldmengenausweitung verantwortlich, das Fed kommt bloss auf 10 bis 15 Prozent und die EZB auf 6 bis 10 Prozent (jeweils in Lokalwährungen oder in Dollar gerechnet).

Der weitaus grösste und fleissigste Gelddrucker der Welt sitzt also weder in Washington noch in Frankfurt oder Tokio, sondern: in Beijing.

Wie es dazu kam und was das für die Zukunft der Weltwirtschaft bedeutet, lesen Sie in einer Woche in diesem Blog.

15 Kommentare zu  „Der fleissigste Gelddrucker der Welt“

Irving Fisher sagt: 21. September 2012 um 09:42
    Die Quantitätsgleichung, nach der Geldmenge M aufgelöst lautet:  M = (Y*P)/V
    In China war die Inflation in den letzten Jahren (mit Brasilien und Indien) am höchsten. Das Wirtschaftswachstum in China am höchsten. Anzunehmen ist, dass die Umlaufgeschwindigkeit auch gestiegen ist, denn Finanzinnovationen (die einzig echte der letzten Jahren: der Geldautomat) sind mehr und mehr Leuten dienlich, aber dennoch sollten Wachstum und Preismenge den Großteil erklären.
    Interessant ist der Fall Japan, wirtschaftspolitisch ein Puzzle. Ein Puzzle in dem es sich trotzdem schön lebt. Das sollte auch nicht vergessen werden, bei der ganzen (irgendwo zweiträngigen) Suche nach BIP-Wachstumsquoten.

Oliver Paul sagt: 21. September 2012 um 12:24
    Japans Puzzle wird möglicherweise bald gelöst sein: Bis jetzt haben Sparer und Pensionskassen die Schulden Japans gekauft. Demographisch bedingt hat die grösste japanische Pensionskasse erstmals Obligationen verkaufen müssen, weil die Prämieneinnahme kleiner ausfielen als die Rentenzahlungen. Das führt mittelfristig zu höheren Zinsen. Gemäs John Mauldin verwendet Japan 50% der Steuereinnahmen für die Zahlung der Schuldzinsen. Steigt das Zinsniveau in Japan um 2%, wird der japanische Staat 100% seiner Einnahmen für den Schuldendienst verwenden. Wie gut es sich dann noch in Japan lebt, ist eine offene Frage.

Manuel Wymann sagt: 21. September 2012 um 14:34
    Schauen Sie in der Statistik der BOJ oder dem MOF nochmals nach. Die grössten Investoren von JGBs sind die Banken und Versicherungen, die Pensionskassen und privaten Sparer haben sich bereits verabschiedet. Die jap. Banken kaufen JGBs vermutlich aus 2 Gründen: A) keine Anlagealternativen also Kreditnachfrage B) Staatsanleihen haben im Tier 1 eine Risikogewichtung von 0%, weil sie als sicher gelten. Die Versicherungen kaufen wegen dem Durationhedge. Sollten die jap. Banken und Versicherungen verkaufen wollen, steht der nächste Investor schon parat: die BOJ.

ast sagt: 21. September 2012 um 11:09
    “Dort ist die Geldmenge M2+ von umgerechnet 5,474 Billionen US-Dollar im Jahr 2007 auf aktuell 14,496 Billionen Dollar hochgeschnellt;”
    Anzumerken ist dabei, dass in China das Geldmengenwachstum durch das Wachstum der Wirtschaft (im zweistelligen Bereich) mit höher skaliert wurde. Ebenfalls anzumerken ist im Fall der USA, dass dieser Staat seit 2006 keine offizielle Statistik über die Geldmenge mehr herausgibt.

H.Trickler sagt: 21. September 2012 um 11:16
    Imho ist eine Statistik welche die blosse Zunahme anzeigt aktuell überhaupt nicht aussagekräftig.
    Es liegt auf der Hand dass China beim raschen Umbruch vom Agrar- zum Industriestaat eine sehr viel grössere Geldmenge benötigt. Wenn man aber die entwickelten Staaten betrachtet, so wird es deutlich dass Japan, USA und Europa die “Sünder” sind, denn in der genannten Reihenfolge haben Sie diese unsinnige Geldvermehrung gestartet.
    Wie in Fachaufsätzen nachgelesen werden kann, hat der japanische Sündenfall wegen der internationalen Mobilität von Geld diesen “Krieg” ausgelöst, und die USA hatten mit der Rezession einen guten Vorwand um nachzuziehen. Wenn nun auch Europa wegen den Krisenmitgliedern die Euroschwemme veranstaltet, wird es zwangsläufig für die Schweiz nachteilige Folgen haben.
    Selbst wenn mangels rentabler Projekte die Wirtschaft nicht “anspringt” und keine (Hyper-) Inflation in Sicht ist, läuft die Rendite sicherer Anlagen gegen Null und damit ist bisherige Berechnung von Renten arg in Schieflage gebracht worden.
    Die Altersvorsorge benötigt mehr Geld, welches die Bürger nicht ausgeben sondern auf die hohe Kante legen müssen, was wiederum die Konjunktur schwächt…
    Sollte dann doch noch mehr Inflation dazu kommen sitzen wir definitiv in der Tinte!

Linus Huber sagt: 21. September 2012 um 11:19
    M3 ist nicht gleichzustellen mit Geld drucken, sondern mit dem Kreditvolumen im System. Von Geld “drucken” spricht man, wenn Zentralbanken ihre Bilanz ausweiten.
    Der Wachstum des systemweiten Kreditvolumens kann zu einem gewissen Grade (nicht vollständig) durch die Zentralbanken durch ihre Zinspolitik beeinflusst werden. Dies nur zur Klarstellung des Artikels.
    In Bezug auf China muss man sagen, dass Ende 2008 die Regierung ein massives Stimulus-programm aufgleiste (sowas wie vielleicht etwa 20-30% des gdp) um die Krise zu überbrücken. Die dadurch entstandenen Fehlinvestitionen fangen schrittweise an zu schmerzen und werden negative Folgen nach sich ziehen.
    Die Ausweitung der M3/M4 Zahlen beruhen zunehmend einzig auf den Aktionen der Zentralbanken, welche vor den Krisenjahren ruhig vor sich hinschliefen und glaubten eine Goldilock Oekonomie produziert zu haben (keine Inflation im Konsumentenpreisindex trotz ansehnlichem Wirtschaftswachstum und tiefen Zinsen), da ja so was wie ein Dreamteam die geldpolitischen Belange bewirtschaftete.

Martin sagt: 21. September 2012 um 11:20
    Dass nicht mit grösserer inflation gerechnet werden muss ist eine recht optimistische Aussage. Dies trifft vielleicht nicht überall im gleichen Masse zu, aber wenn sich in China das Wachstum reduziert, könnte die Inflation schnell einmal überborden. Und wenn das Wachstum sich weltweit abschwächt könnte dies durchaus einige Verwerfungen nach sich ziehen (mehr Geld, weniger Waren und Dienstleistungen im Umlauf = höhere Teuerung).

ast sagt: 21. September 2012 um 13:15
    Bis dato führte die Gelmengenausweitung in Japan zur Deflation des Warenkorbes insgesamt. Alleine bei Importgütern wie Rohstoffen kann es zu Inflation kommen. Das gilt auch für USA und Europa -sämtliches QE hat bisher deflationäre Tendenzen ausgelöst, denn die Liquidität kommt nicht in der Realwirtschaft an (im Gegenteil). Noch etwas anderes, was meine Aussagen in den letzten Blog -Beiträgen unterstützt:
    “Dem Ausschuss zufolge soll allein Microsoft zwischen 2009 und 2011 rund 21 Milliarden Dollar ins Ausland gebracht und damit bis zu 4,5 Milliarden Dollar an Steuern in den USA gespart haben. Apple habe im selben Zeitraum sogar 35 Milliarden Dollar und Google 24 Milliarden der Besteuerung entzogen. Auch HP soll mit Hilfe komplexer Transaktionen Milliardenzahlungen vermieden haben. Insgesamt fand der Senat bei rund tausend untersuchten Firmen insgesamt 1,5 Billionen Dollar, die im Ausland geparkt wurden. ”
    Ich hatte bereits im Blog mit der Globalisierungsfrage ..seit wann ist Globaisierung? entsprechend geantwortet- nämlich dass die Globalisierung ohne soziale Regulierung deshalb so weit vorangeschritten ist, weil die Reichen damit vor Steuern flüchten können. In der Frage des Geldmengenwachstum sei angemerkt -dass diese Fluchtgelder natürlich ebenfalls eine sehr hohe Nachfrage nach Liquidität bedingt und ein Grossteil der oben angeführten Ausweitung in sich aufgesogen hat -während Otto Normalverbraucher von dem alles nichts hat -sogar eine geringere Geldmenge.

Marc Goldinger sagt: 21. September 2012 um 11:28
    “Wie Markus Diem Meier bereits in diesem Blogbeitrag argumentiert hat, ist die Furcht vor einem baldigen grossen Inflationsschub übertrieben” Die massive Geldmengenausweitung IST Inflation. Die Teuerung (welche garantiert auch noch kommt) ist lediglich ein Symptom der Inflation.

ast sagt: 21. September 2012 um 13:26
    Die Geldmengenausweitung der Notenbanken wird vor allem im Ausland aufgesogen, im Binnemarkt kommt es sogar zur Schrumpfung. Aus oben abgebildeter Statistik geht nicht hervor wieviel dieser Geldmengen nach ausserhalb gelangt ist. Wie Forbes anmerkte legten die reichsten Bürger letztes Jahr nochmals zu insgesamt -aber im innoffiziellen Teil der vor Steuern verborgen wird liegt mehr als das Doppelte der Zunahme der Geldmenge. Die Notenbanken tun mit QE also nichts anderes als diese Steuerflucht der Reichen füttern, während der Binnemarkt nichts von der Geldschwemme sieht.

Ruedi Heeb sagt: 21. September 2012 um 12:44
    Wenn man das ganze in Gold rechnet, dann sieht das Bild ein wenig anders aus. Ausweitung (bzw. Reduktion) der Geldmenge in Gold von 2007 bis jetzt (in dieser Zeit hat sich der Goldpreis in etwas verdoppelt):
    USA: -40%
    EURO: -35%
    CHINA: 27%
    JAPAN: -31%
    SCHWEIZ: -27%
    Das heisst, in Gold gemessen, wurde die Geldmenge (mit Ausnahme von China) reduziert und nicht ausgeweitet. Aus dieser Warte gesehen wurde viel zuwenig Geld in den Markt gepumpt. Gold ist eine sehr gute Basis für einen Preisindex, der sich über Jahrhunderte bewährt hat (man konnt sich über die Jahrhunderte in etwa immer das gleiche mit Gold kaufen).
    Das heisst aber umgekehrt auch, dass Gold 2007 im Vergleich zu heute unterbewertet war.
    Was die Inflation betrifft, ist jedoch das wichtigste der Preisindex. Der ist leider jedoch in allen Ländern so heftig manipuliert, dass die richtige Inflationsrate immer um Faktoren grösser ist als der offiziell bestätigte. Die Lebenskosten der meisten Bürger in der westlichen Welt sind in den vergangenen Jahren massiv in die Höhe geschossen; das wird leider komplett ignoriert, da man sich auf die offiziellen Inflationszahlen verlässt (die ja von denen publiziert werden, die das ganze Gelddrucken veranstalten). Und da es praktisch alle Länder machen, fällt es nicht so auf (auch wenn CHF/EUR Indikatoren sind und bleiben).
    Sogenannte Shadow Stats sollte man sich mal anschauen, da wird einem schwindelig.
    Und: der Artikel zeigt sehr gut auf, das China bald einmal geldpolitische Probleme kriegen wird, die sie jedoch mit enorm vielen Geldkäufen wieder wettmachen werden.
    Alles in allem läuft es auf eine weltweite Inflation mit keinem Wachstum hinaus (Stagflation) aus der es mit den jetzigen Mitteln kein entrinnen mehr gibt und die sehr schnell in einen weltweite Hyperinflation münden _kann_. Man sollte persönlich vorsorgen.

nicolas pidoula sagt: 21. September 2012 um 17:03
    Gelddrucken funktioniert heute anders, Herr Dittli! Digital, mit ein paar Nullen hintendran mittels eines Push-Buttons. Das heisst konkret: Die Geldsummen floaten nur noch digital herum. Genaugenommen von Bank zu Bank. Das hat nichts mehr mit Papiergeld (oder bedruckter Baumwolle – wie Jens Weidmann es gesagt hat) zu tun. @Heeb: Sie haben Recht. Der Blick auf Gold zeigt, wohin die Reise geht. Ich rechne persönlich auch mit einer starken Inflation. Ich finde es furchtbar, wie politische und finanzwirtschaftliche Gier gezielt das Vermögen der Mittelklasse und Sparer vernichtet. So dass am Ende nur noch Superreiche und Bettelarme zurückbleiben. Aber So erhält man sich die politische Macht. Und wenn es nicht anders geht, zettelt man halt einen Krieg an. Das hatten wir alles schon x-mal.

Thomas ernst sagt: 21. September 2012 um 18:39
    Ja. Das ist in einer von Märchen, Mythen und Machtspielchen dominierten Kultur wie der des Westens unvermeidlich. Lineares Denken. Schade.

Michael Schwarz sagt: 21. September 2012 um 18:00
    Ohne die Umlaufgeschwindigkeit des Geldes in Betracht zu ziehen, sagte die Basisgeldmenge nichts aus. Dieser Irrtum hat auch Ben Bernanke begangen, weil er angenommen hat, wenn Basisgeldmenge ausgeweiter wird, wird auch die gesamte Geldmenge zulegen, also ein Irrtum.
    Die Inflation in China wird das Wachstum und die Stabilität des Wirtschaftssystem langsam aber sicher zerstören. Wie ich zuvor schrieb, wer an eigner Währung herumschraub, schraub an eigner Stabilität herum. China ist kein gutes Beispiel der Wirtschaftsstabilität. Die USA die chinesische Geldpolitik kopieren, das ist der Irrtum Nummer zwei. Die USA wird niemals schaffen den Chinesen zu schlagen, weil in China die Sklaverei herrscht. Die US-Wirtschaftspolitiker und US-Notenbanker müssen langsam aufwachen, klar zu werden, dass das chinesische Wirtschaftssystem nicht mit dem, in demokratischen Ländern vergleichbar ist. Für die chinesische Ware müssen alle Industrieländer höhe Zölle erheben, für die Umweltschäden, die In Industrieländern reparieren muss, Sklaverei und. unfaire Wettbewerbsbedingung.

Michael Schwarz sagt: 21. September 2012 um 19:07
    Die Daten zeigen, dass die SNB viel mehr Geld drucken muss, um den Franken zu drücken. Die SNB hat nicht mal richtig angefangen Geld zu drucken. Dies zeigt an der Wechselkursentwicklung letzter 12 Monate. D.h. die SNB muss viel mehr zu tun. Das sage ich seit fast einem Jahr.

October 24, 2012

Prison May Be the Next Stop on a Gold Currency Journey

Described by some as the "Rosa Parks of the constitutional currency movement,” Bernard von NotHaus managed over the last decade to get more than 60 million real dollars’ worth of his precious metal-backed currency into circulation across the country. Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times

MALIBU, Calif. — High above the cliff tops and the beach bars, up a winding mountain road, in a borrowed house on someone else’s ranch, an unusual criminal is waiting for his fate.

His name is Bernard von NotHaus, and he is a professed “monetary architect” and a maker of custom coins found guilty last spring of counterfeiting charges for minting and distributing a form of private money called the Liberty Dollar.

Described by some as “the Rosa Parks of the constitutional currency movement,” Mr. von NotHaus managed over the last decade to get more than 60 million real dollars’ worth of his precious metal-backed currency into circulation across the country — so much, and with such deep penetration, that the prosecutor overseeing his case accused him of “domestic terrorism” for using them to undermine the government.

Mr. von NotHaus was convicted of using precious metals to back a currency he called the Liberty Dollar, which he says was “a private voluntary currency” for those conducting business outside the government’s purview. Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times

Of course, if you ask him what caused him to be living here in exile, waiting with the rabbits for his sentence to be rendered, he will give a different account of what occurred.

“This is the United States government,” he said in an interview last week. “It’s got all the guns, all the surveillance, all the tanks, it has nuclear weapons, and it’s worried about some ex-surfer guy making his own money? Give me a break!”

The story of Mr. von NotHaus, from his beginnings as a hippie, can sound at times as if Ken Kesey had been paid in marijuana to write a script on spec for Representative Ron Paul. At 68, Mr. von NotHaus faces more than 20 years in prison for his crimes, and this decisive chapter of his tale has come, coincidentally, at a moment when his obsessions of 40 years — monetary policy, dollar depreciation and the Federal Reserve Bank — have finally found their place in the national discourse.

A native of Kansas City, Mr. von NotHaus first became enticed by making money while living with his companion, Talena Presley, without a car or electric power in a commune of like-minded dropouts in a nameless village on the Big Island in Hawaii. It was 1974, and Mr. von NotHaus, 30 and ignorant of economics, experienced “an epiphany,” he said, which resulted in the writing of a 20-page financial manifesto titled “To Know Value.”

In it he described his conviction that money has a moral aspect and that any loss in its value will cause a corresponding loss in social and political values. It was only three years after President Richard M. Nixon had removed the country from the gold standard, and Mr. von NotHaus, a gold enthusiast, began buying gold from local jewelers and selling it to his friends.

One day, he recalled, “we were all sitting around thinking, ‘Wow, we ought to do something with this gold.’ And I said: ‘Yeah, we could make coins. People love coins. We could have our own money!’ ”

Within a year, he had established the Royal Hawaiian Mint, a private — not royal — producer of collectible coins. Hitchhiking to a library in the county seat of Hilo, he said, he looked up “minting” in the encyclopedia and soon was turning out gold and silver medallions with images of volcanos and the Kona Coast.

So went the better part of 20 years. Then came 1991, which saw the emergence of a successful local currency in Ithaca, N.Y., called the Ithaca Hour. The 1990s were a time of great ferment in the local-money world with activists and academics writing books and papers, like Judith Shelton’s “Money Meltdown.” Mr. von NotHaus, traveling with his sons, Random and Xtra, to adventuresome locations, like Machu Picchu, read these seminal works.

“I had been working on it since 1974,” he testified at his federal trial in North Carolina. “It was time to do something.”

The Constitution grants to Congress the power “to coin money” and to “regulate the Value thereof” — but it does not explicitly grant an exclusive right to do such things. There are legal-tender laws that regulate production of government currency and counterfeiting laws that prohibit things like “uttering” gold or silver coins “for use as current money.”

Mr. von NotHaus claims he never meant the Liberty Dollar to be used as legal tender. He says he created it as “a private voluntary currency” for those conducting business outside the government’s purview. His guiding metaphor is the relationship between the Postal Service and FedEx. “What happened in the FedEx model,” he testified, “is that they” — a private company offering services the government did not — “brought competition to the post office.”

To introduce the Liberty Dollar in 1998, Mr. von NotHaus moved from Hawaii to Evansville, Ind., where he joined forces with Jim Thomas, who for several years had been publishing a magazine called Media Bypass, whose pages were filled with conspiracy theories and interviews with militia members, even Timothy McVeigh.

Working from the magazine’s office, Mr. von NotHaus lived in a mobile home and promoted his nascent currency to “patriot groups” on Mr. Thomas’s mailing list while reaching an agreement with Sunshine Minting Inc., in Idaho, to produce the Liberty Dollar. His marketing scheme was simple: he drove around the country in a Cadillac trying to persuade local merchants like hair salons and restaurants to use his coins and to offer them as change to willing customers.

Banks, of course, did not accept his money; however, to ensure that it found its way only into hands that wanted to use it, Mr. von NotHaus placed a toll-free number and a URL address on the currency he produced. If people mistakenly got hold of it, they could mail it back to Evansville and receive its equivalent in actual dollar bills.

Now jump ahead to 2004. A detective in Asheville, N.C., learned one day that a client of a credit union had to tried to pass a “fake coin” at one its local branches. An investigation determined that some business acquaintances of Mr. von NotHaus were, court papers say, allied with the sovereign citizens’ movement, an antigovernment group.

Federal agents infiltrated the Liberty Dollar outfit as well as its educational arm, Liberty Dollar University.

In 2006, with millions of the coins in circulation in more than 80 cities, the United States Mint sent Mr. von NotHaus a letter advising that the use of his currency “as circulating money” was a federal crime.

He ignored this advice,and in 2007, federal agents raided the offices in Evansville, seizing, among other things, copper dollars embossed with the image of Mr. Paul.

Two years later, Mr. von NotHaus was arrested on fraud and counterfeiting charges, accused of having used the Liberty Dollar’s parent corporation — Norfed, the National Organization for Repeal of the Federal Reserve — to mount a conspiracy against the United States.

At his federal trial, witnesses testified to the Liberty Dollar’s criminal similitude to standard American coins. They said his coins included images of Lady Liberty and cheekily reversed “In God We Trust” to “Trust in God.” Then again, his coins were made of real gold and silver, as American coins are not, and came in different sizes and unusual denominations of $10 and $20.

In his own defense, Mr. von NotHaus testified about a “philanthropic mission” to combat devaluation with a currency based on precious metals and asserted that he was not involved in “a radical armed offense against the government or their money.”

It was, of course, to no avail; and in 2011, a jury found him guilty after a 90-minute deliberation.

These days, Mr. von NotHaus paces shoeless in a mansion, in the hills above the ocean, that was lent to him by a friend. His sentencing has yet to be scheduled, and this leaves time for reflection. He feeds the hummingbirds outside his window. He reads books on fiat currency. He is even writing a book — on the gold standard, of course.

“The thing that fires me up the most,” he will say, “is this is what happens: When money goes bad, people go crazy. Do you know why? Because they can’t exist without value. Value is intrinsic in man.”

Tages-Anzeiger    26.Oktober 2012

Wenn Geld parkieren Geld kostet
Von Philipp Löpfe

Austerität und Schuldenpolitik haben versagt. Immer häufiger kommen daher neue alte Ideen auf, seien es Mittel wie die Demurrage in den USA oder eine Parallelwährung in Finnland.

Schon im Mittelalter zahlte man eine Art Parkgebühr für gehortetes Geld: Parkuhr an der Zürcher Bahnhofstrasse im Rahmen der Initiative «Mobilität ist Kultur». (5. Juli 2003)

Die Wirtschaftskrise hat den alten Religionskrieg in der Ökonomie neu entfacht: Es gibt die Vertreter einer bedingungslosen Austeritätspolitik, beispielsweise Wolfgang Schäuble und George Osborne, die beiden Finanzminister von Deutschland und Grossbritannien. Sie setzen bedingungslos auf Sparen um jeden Preis. Doch diese Politik hat bisher keine Erfolge vorzuweisen. Selbst der Internationale Währungsfonds ist davon abgerückt und warnt neuerdings vor übertriebenem Spareifer. Die Gegner der Austeritätspolitik machen zwar darauf aufmerksam, dass die Sparwut immer tiefer in einen deflationären Sumpf führt, können sich aber in der Praxis nicht durchsetzen. Zu gross ist die Angst vor Inflation und Chaos.

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Gegner und Befürworter bekämpfen sich nicht nur mit religiösem Eifer, sie blockieren sich auch gegenseitig. Immer häufiger suchen Notenbanker und Wirtschaftspolitiker nach Alternativen, die ausserhalb dieses Schemas liegen. Die US-Notenbank und die Bank of England setzen seit Jahren auf das Quantitative Easing, will heissen: sie kaufen im grossen Stil Anleihen auf und drücken damit die Zinsen. Das billige Geld soll die Wirtschaft ankurbeln.

Finanzielle Repression bis 2014
Quantitative Easing allein genügt nicht. Daher greifen die Notenbanken immer häufiger zum Mittel der finanziellen Repression. Das bedeutet, dass die Notenbanken die Zinsen bewusst unter die Inflation drücken, und das über längere Zeit. Fed-Präsident Ben Bernanke hat öffentlich erklärt, dass er eine solche Politik bis mindestens ins Jahr 2014 durchhalten will. Das heisst konkret: Wer spart, der wird bestraft, denn wenn die Zinsen tiefer als die Inflation sind, dann heisst dies real, dass die Zinsen in den negativen Bereich gerutscht sind.

Bernanke greift damit auf ein uraltes Rezept zurück, die Demurrage. Sie wurde schon im Mittelalter praktiziert. Wer damals Geld hortete, wurde dafür nicht mit Zinsen belohnt, sondern musste eine Art Parkgebühr dafür entrichten, eben diese Demurrage. Damit war dieses Geld nach einem Jahr weniger, nicht mehr wert. Diese Idee wurde im 20. Jahrhundert von der Freigeld-Bewegung wieder aufgegriffen. Silvio Gesell konzipierte ein «Geld, das rostet» mit der Begründung: Wenn Geld rostet, dann zirkuliert es rasch und stimuliert die Wirtschaft. Damit werden Beschäftigung und Wohlstand geschaffen.

Parallelwährung als Zweitwohnung neben dem Eurohaus
In Finnland wird gemäss «Financial Times» derzeit die Einführung einer Parallelwährung diskutiert. Die Bank Nordea hat eine Studie vorgestellt, wie ein solches System funktionieren könnte. Parallel zum Euro könnten die Finnen in ihrer Heimat wieder die Markka verwenden. Die neue Währung würde sich zum Euro in einem Kurs von 1:1 bewegen. Es wäre somit ein bisschen wie bei Pepsi und Coca Cola, die Konsumenten hätten die Wahl zwischen zwei gleichwertigen Produkten. Doch gleichzeitig würde den Finnen auch die Angst genommen, dass bei einem Crash des Euro und einer möglichen Hyperinflation ihr Vermögen zerstört würde. Die Markka wäre dann eine Art Zweitwohnung für den Fall, dass das Eurohaus abbrennt. Gleichzeitig würde eine solche Parallelwährung auch den Binnenmarkt ankurbeln, denn sie kann nur innerhalb der finnischen Landesgrenzen verwendet werden.

Dass Finnland eine Parallelwährung überhaupt in Erwägung zieht, ist ungewöhnlich. Es gehört schliesslich zum reichen Norden im Euroland. Parallelwährungen sind eher ein Mittel, zu dem arme Staaten greifen. Auch in Griechenland wäre eine Wiedereinführung der Drachme neben dem Euro eine Option, allerdings zu einem deutlich niedrigeren Kurs. Damit wäre es Griechenland möglich, abzuwerten und damit das bestehende Ungleichgewicht zum Euro zu kompensieren. Bisher ist das nur mit einer «inneren Abwertung» möglich, einer drastischen Kürzung von Löhnen und Renten.

Ein grosses Risiko im Zeitalter der Globalisierung
Mit einer Parallelwährung würden die bisher in das Korsett einer Einheitswährung gezwängten Mitglieder von Euroland wieder grössere Flexibilität ihrer Geldpolitik zurückgewinnen und den Binnenmarkt stärken. Doch sie würden sich auch ein neues Problem einhandeln. Die Parallelwährungen wären nicht unter dem Dach der Europäischen Zentralbank und im Krisenfall wäre niemand für sie zuständig. Um ein totales Währungschaos zu verhindern, müssten zudem rigide Kapitalkontrollen wieder eingeführt werden. Im Zeitalter der Globalisierung will vorläufig noch niemand dieses Risiko eingehen. (