Connect with us

Business

The decline of dollar hegemony

Published

on

Photo: Shutterstock

21-May-2021

By Wang Dan

Editor’s note: Wang Dan is the chief economist at Hang Seng Bank China. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The U.S. ultra-loose monetary policy has hurt its currency credit. At the beginning of the pandemic, such a policy response was justified. After COVID-19 went global in early 2020, there was a scramble for the dollar, causing a surge in its valuation. In response, the Federal Reserve promised an infinite supply of the dollar, mostly through quantitative easing, to stabilize its value. 

As time went by, the ultra-easy monetary policy started to seem problematic because the market expected that in the mid-to-long term, the dollar would stay weak. The Fed also seems not in a hurry to raise interest rates any time soon even if the inflation is rising. As a result, the dollar has been losing value to all prominent currencies since the pandemic, including the euro, yen, pound and yuan, while capital rushed into the U.S. stock market, pushing its valuation to an all-time high. Risks are accumulating within the financial system.

The key to being a global currency is the ability to maintain a stable value, particularly during an economic crisis. Yet the present market expectation is a weak dollar in the mid-to-long term. This is partly due to the ultra-loose monetary policy in the U.S., and partly because of the global economic recovery. When the world is in a crisis mode, people tend to hold dollars as they are considered safe assets. When the recovery begins, however, the return from holding extra dollar-denominated assets diminishes as the expected return diminishes. Global investors will thus start to look for better deals elsewhere, including emerging markets.

The dollar’s decline started even before the pandemic. Market confidence in the dollar was shaken significantly by the 2008 financial crisis. Afterward, the Fed had kept the interest rate artificially low for an extended period to pump up the economy, which has eroded the appeal of dollars. Another reason for the dollar’s fall is the U.S.’s increasingly aggressive use of financial sanctions. These sanctions not only affect countries of the target, like Russia and China, but also other parts of the world where people wish to do business as usual. In this dollar-central financial system, all countries are vulnerable. Every country may get into a dispute with the U.S. at some point. The Biden administration is more predictable than the Trump administration, but there is no guarantee that the U.S. won’t have a Trump-like figure again in the future. Given how frequent the U.S. is relying on financial sanctions as a weapon, it is no surprise that countries wish to diversify away from dollar reserves.

Alipay and WeChat Pay logos appear at the checkout counter at Charles de Gaulle Airport Duty Free Shop in Paris, France, July 3, 2018. /CFP

In contrast, the Chinese yuan’s share in the global reserve has increased significantly since the pandemic. The momentum shows no signs of slowing down. One reason is the strong rise of China’s digital platforms, particularly Alipay and WeChat. They have globalized a lot faster than conventional banks and have become critical players in consumer finance around the world. To attract Chinese tourists, many more businesses in Asia, Europe and even in the U.S. are accepting online payment through Chinese apps. China’s central bank is another important driving force. The central bank digital currency is picking up pace in rollout within China. Though it’s still a long way away before becoming a means for international transactions, this will provide the necessary infrastructure for cross-border transactions in yuan in the future.

Despite rapid growth, the Chinese yuan’s global payments remain small, currently at around 2.5 percent, compared to 20 percent of the euro and 59 percent of the dollar. The Chinese government has proven its ability to restore growth and keep its currency stable after COVID-19. The next step would be to make the yuan more convertible by gradually opening the capital account. China has already launched Bond Connect to allow foreigners to invest in onshore bonds through Hong Kong and allowed international credit-rating agencies to operate in the Chinese mainland. 

In international financial contracts, Chinese companies have stepped up efforts to negotiate terms in yuan for more projects. Yet most Belt and Road projects are still financed by dollar loans. It has become a more urgent need to expand the usage of the yuan before the U.S. imposes more restrictions on China’s dollar financing.

Being a global currency incurs both costs and benefits. Higher demand for the yuan will inevitably drive up its value relative to others, which will hurt domestic exporters and motivate more companies to set up factories overseas. China’s productivity growth is already faster than that of the U.S., which exerts additional pressure for the yuan’s real appreciation. A silver lining is that a more flexible yuan will grant more room for monetary policy at home. 

Previously China’s central bank needed to be concerned about both the domestic economy and the stability of the exchange rate market, which has limited the scope of policy effect. In the end, currency supremacy is up to a country’s economic clout and financial innovation capacity. In those two regards, the tide is on China’s side.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Wealth Management

Number of African millionaires to rise 42% over next decade, says report’

Africa as a continent has the both the youngest and fastest growing populations, which could mean endless possibilities for investors

Published

on

By

THE NUMBER of African millionaires is set to rise a staggering 42% in the next ten years, according to a new report,

The Africa Wealth Report which is the definitive guide of Africa’s wealth and luxury sector and is published by Henley & Partners – the global leader in residence and citizenship by investment.

This year’s report – written in partnership with New World Wealth – say Africa is set to see a substantial increase in Africa’s High-Net Worth Individual (HNWI) population over the next decade.

The report reads: “The Africa Wealth Report 2023 reveals that the growth in High-Net-Worth Individuals on the continent is expected to be 42% over the next 10 years.”

Natural and  eco-friendly businesses is a trend which is set to be popular with HNWIs and is set to influence a boom in the eco-tourism market.

However, the report noted: “Total high-net-worth individual numbers on the continent have dropped by 12% since 2012, as this report reveals, with poor growth in the three largest markets: South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria.

“But the future looks brighter, as New World Wealth predicts Africa’s millionaire population will rise by 42% over the next decade, reaching 195,000 by 2032.”

Mauritius projected to have a growth rate of 75% in the next ten years.

But also, several other African countries are predicted to see a growth of over 60% for HNWI’s.

These countries are Rwanda, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Seychelles and Morocco, according to the report.

Africa as a continent has the both the youngest and fastest growing populations, which could mean endless possibilities for investors.

The new report also reveals that “the ‘Big 5’ wealth markets in Africa — South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and Morocco — together account for a significant 56% of Africa’s high-net-worth individuals and over 90% of the continent’s billionaires.”

But with countries like Rwanda are developing fast, which may mean a huge leap in the country’s wealth.

The report states: “Rwanda was the top performing market in Africa during the period, with millionaire growth of 72%, followed by Mauritius, the Seychelles, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Morocco and Kenya’s high-net-worth individual populations also grew solidly.

“Ethiopia and Ghana, whose millionaire populations had been growing rapidly until 2019, have struggled over the past few years, which has pulled back their 10-year growth rates.

Continue Reading

Business

Financing Africa’s recovery.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Published

on

By

Financing Africa’s recovery: Is there an unfair risk premium on lending to the continent?

France 24’s François Picard leads a discussion in which Lionel Zinsou, former Prime Minister of Benin, and Marin Ferry, Asst. Prof. at the Université Gustave Eiffel, articulate their views on the treatment of African economies on the international bond markets and by credit rating agencies. Is there an anti-African stigma on the financial markets?

Continue Reading

Business

AFC – Changing the Narrative on Africa

Published

on

Africa Finance Corporation – Africa is on a major growth trajectory and the future belongs to Africa .

Continue Reading

Trending