Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
S&P 500 – Is a 5% Correction Enough? - 6th Dec 21
Global Stock Markets It’s Do-Or-Die Time - 6th Dec 21
Hawks Triumph, Doves Lose, Gold Bulls Cry! - 6th Dec 21
How Stock Investors Can Cash in on President Biden’s new Climate Plan - 6th Dec 21
The Lithium Tech That Could Send The EV Boom Into Overdrive - 6th Dec 21
How Stagflation Effects Stocks - 5th Dec 21
Bitcoin FLASH CRASH! Cryptos Blood Bath as Exchanges Run Stops, An Early Christmas Present for Some? - 5th Dec 21
TESCO Pre Omicron Panic Christmas Decorations Festive Shop 2021 - 5th Dec 21
Dow Stock Market Trend Forecast Into Mid 2022 - 4th Dec 21
INVESTING LESSON - Give your Portfolio Some Breathing Space - 4th Dec 21
Don’t Get Yourself Into a Bull Trap With Gold - 4th Dec 21
4 Tips To Help You Take Better Care Of Your Personal Finances- 4th Dec 21
What Is A Golden Cross Pattern In Trading? - 4th Dec 21
Bitcoin Price TRIGGER for Accumulating Into Alt Coins for 2022 Price Explosion - Part 2 - 3rd Dec 21
Stock Market Major Turning Point Taking Place - 3rd Dec 21
The Masters of the Universe and Gold - 3rd Dec 21
This simple Stock Market mindset shift could help you make millions - 3rd Dec 21
Will the Glasgow Summit (COP26) Affect Energy Prices? - 3rd Dec 21
Peloton 35% CRASH a Lesson of What Happens When One Over Pays for a Loss Making Growth Stock - 1st Dec 21
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: I Fear For Retirees For The Next 20 Years - 1st Dec 21 t
Will the Anointed Finanical Experts Get It Wrong Again? - 1st Dec 21
Main Differences Between the UK and Canadian Gaming Markets - 1st Dec 21
Bitcoin Price TRIGGER for Accumulating Into Alt Coins for 2022 Price Explosion - 30th Nov 21
Omicron Covid Wave 4 Impact on Financial Markets - 30th Nov 21
Can You Hear It? That’s the Crowd Booing Gold’s Downturn - 30th Nov 21
Economic and Market Impacts of Omicron Strain Covid 4th Wave - 30th Nov 21
Stock Market Historical Trends Suggest A Strengthening Bullish Trend In December - 30th Nov 21
Crypto Market Analysis: What Trading Will Look Like in 2022 for Novice and Veteran Traders? - 30th Nov 21
Best Stocks for Investing to Profit form the Metaverse and Get Rich - 29th Nov 21
Should You Invest In Real Estate In 2021? - 29th Nov 21
Silver Long-term Trend Analysis - 28th Nov 21
Silver Mining Stocks Fundamentals - 28th Nov 21
Crude Oil Didn’t Like Thanksgiving Turkey This Year - 28th Nov 21
Sheffield First Snow Winter 2021 - Snowballs and Snowmen Fun - 28th Nov 21
Stock Market Investing LESSON - Buying Value - 27th Nov 21
Corsair MP600 NVME M.2 SSD 66% Performance Loss After 6 Months of Use - Benchmark Tests - 27th Nov 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

In Weaponizing the Dollar Trump’s Lieutenants Flunk Finance 101

Politics / US Dollar Jul 17, 2020 - 02:09 PM GMT

By: Steve_H_Hanke


In a scoop, Bloomberg reported last week that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and some of President Trump’s top lieutenants are considering fully weaponizing the U.S. dollar to undermine Hong Kong’s financial system. The idea has been hatched to punish China for its recent aggressions in Hong Kong.

Just what does the weaponization of the greenback entail? The U.S. dollar is the international currency. It is the major reserve currency held by central banks, the most prominent currency used to denominate debt, and the unit of account for invoicing goods and services in international trade. The dollar’s stable value means that it is used widely for both international payment and interbank transactions, as well as for official intervention in foreign-exchange markets. In short, the dollar is entrenched at the center of the international financial system. This gives the United States an “exorbitant privilege,” as the Frenchman Valéry Giscard d’ Estaing pointedly put it. For the U.S., the benefits are incalculable.

The greenback becomes weaponized when Washington imposes financial sanctions on individuals, institutions, or nations. These sanctions are designed to cut off those targeted from the use of the dollar, and thereby from the use of the financial system.

Sanctions are, of course, nothing new. They have been weapons of war for centuries. In the U.S., many presidents have embraced them. President Woodrow Wilson went so far as to proclaim that sanctions could be a “deadly force” and a very effective diplomatic tool. Even though the evidence supporting the success of sanctions is threadbare at best, White House after White House has latched onto sanctions to no avail. Just consider how well the weaponized dollar sanctions have worked against Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela. Sanctions are a fatal attraction that have become ever more prominent since the Twin Towers came tumbling down on September 11.

This brings us to the Trump administration. President Trump, the counter-puncher in chief, has become drunk on financial sanctions. Indeed, anybody or anything that Trump and his lieutenants dislike is at a very high risk of being sanctioned. Financial sanctions are clearly the president’s weapon of choice. That is why Bloomberg’s reportage is so credible, disturbing, and dangerous.

Hong Kong is one of the world’s most important financial centers. It is not a Havana, Caracas, Tehran, or Pyongyang. Furthermore, Hong Kong is a uniquely dollar-based economy. Why? In 1983, Hong Kong established a currency board, which was designed by my colleague and collaborator John Greenwood. Hong Kong’s currency board is managed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Just what is a currency board? A currency board issues notes and coins convertible on demand into a foreign anchor currency at a fixed rate of exchange. As reserves, it holds low-risk, interest-bearing bonds denominated in the anchor currency. The reserve levels (both floors and ceilings) are set by law and are equal to 100 percent, or slightly more, of its monetary liabilities. A currency board generates profits from the difference between the interest it earns on its reserve assets and the expense of maintaining its liabilities.

By design, and unlike central banks, a currency board has no discretionary monetary power and cannot engage in the fiduciary issue of money. It has an exchange-rate policy (which is fixed) but no monetary policy. A currency board’s operations are passive and automatic. The sole function of a currency board is to exchange the domestic currency it issues for an anchor currency at a fixed rate. Consequently, the quantity of domestic currency in circulation is determined solely by market forces; namely, the demand for domestic currency.

Since the Hong Kong dollar’s anchor currency is the U.S. dollar, the HKD is a clone of the USD, and Hong Kong is part of a unified currency area with the United States. From a strictly monetary perspective, it is as if Hong Kong were part of the United States.

So, if the U.S. imposed financial sanctions on Hong Kong, it would be equivalent to cutting California’s financial system off from access to the greenback. Such a maneuver would inflict a catastrophic blow on Hong Kong and a catastrophic blow on the U.S. and the greenback. Trust in the dollar would vanish.

It is clear that Trump’s lieutenants who are brainstorming the idea of preventing Hong Kong’s banks and the HKMA’s currency board from accessing their holdings of dollars have either not taken a course in finance — or, if they have, that they failed.

Follow me on Twitter.

By Steve H. Hanke

Steve H. Hanke is a Professor of Applied Economics and Co-Director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Prof. Hanke is also a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C.; a Distinguished Professor at the Universitas Pelita Harapan in Jakarta, Indonesia; a Senior Advisor at the Renmin University of China’s International Monetary Research Institute in Beijing; a Special Counselor to the Center for Financial Stability in New York; a member of the National Bank of Kuwait’s International Advisory Board (chaired by Sir John Major); a member of the Financial Advisory Council of the United Arab Emirates; and a contributing editor at Globe Asia Magazine.

Copyright © 2020 Steve H. Hanke - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

© 2005-2019 - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.

Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in