As central banks including the Fed, the ECB and (of course) the PBOC (along with some 85 others) scramble to roll out their own digital currencies, some naive crypto bros might assume that the financial establishment and the government have completely embraced cryptocurrencies. But as we have pointed out before, this isn’t exactly true. The reality is that while they have spoken of ‘the financial revolution,’ they have only embraced some aspects of cryptocurrency.
For example, they have embraced the fact that all transactions on a digital blockchain can be carefully tracked and monitored, assuming they are the ones in control of said blockchain. This deep level of vision and insight would allow centralized financial authorities (like the Fed) to exert unprecedented levels of control over Americans’ spending habits.
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But what impact will the advent of digital currencies have on the dollar’s hegemonic status in the global monetary order? Fed expert Jim Bianco offered some very interesting thoughts on this topic during his latest interview with MacroVoices’ Erik Townsend, where he offered an interesting prediction.
First, Bianco pointed out that many of the central banks that are most advanced in their CBDC projects are members of the emerging and frontier market classifications. As we have noted before, three CBDCs have already gone fully live in the past two years: the so-called DCash in the Eastern Caribbean, the Sand Dollar in the Bahamas and the eNaira in Nigeria (and, of course, the PBOC is making swift progress with its “e-RMB”).
One reason why central banks in emerging markets are so eager to accelerate the transition to digital currencies is because many are growing frustrated with the realities of American hegemony. Even the IMF (or at least some of its senior officials) has acknowledged that western sanctions are undermining international faith in the dollar-based monetary system.
Here’s Bianco, responding to a question from Townsend about a theoretical global monetary system managed by a consortium of central banks and based on a kind if supranational digital currency.
So you’re seeing the adoption rate, really what’s pushing this is Asia, Africa, the Middle East, knowing that they’ve been at the short end of the stick having not to have access to world capital markets, or to banking services at a reasonable rate. And wanting to have that. That’s why you’re seeing the adoption of places like in El Salvador, and potentially in Argentina, as well, too. Because they have been shut out of the capital markets, they need the permission of entities like the World Bank, or the IMF to do certain things. They are punished if they do things that displeasures, the first world or the United States, or the IMF, or the World Bank. And so that’s why they want some kind of system like that.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody (at least, not those with at least a base level of understanding of economics). As both Bianco and Townsend point out, the concept of “exorbitant privilege” is nothing new.
What you wind up doing is making it fair for the rest of the world because one of the problems the current global financial system has, is it’s more of a tiered system that if you’re further up the list in the United States is at the top of the list, you get more privileges, better, cheaper financing, better access to markets. As you move further down the list, you get less access, things become more expensive.
With this in mind, remember: despite the Fed’s best efforts to develop a CBDC of its own, the US would likely do everything in its power to make sure the type of system described by Townsend above – that is, one where control is distributed among various central banks, and not concentrated in the hands of the Fed (and its supplicants) – never comes to be, since that would eliminate the ‘exorbitant privilege’ of the American economy (and create serious problems as the Treasury would likely be forced to pay higher interest rates on its massive debt).