A New Currency Bloc – The Chinese Question

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, language, Media by Anuraag Sanghi on October 3, 2008
Estimated Chinese Holdings

Estimated Chinese Holdings

Stumbling Block

In any new world financial reform proposal, the Chinese voice will be very important. After all they are the world’s largest creditor nation! They have US$2 trillion worth of IOUs with them. Of course, the composition of these US$2 trillion Chinese reserves is a state secret. And after the Chinese come the Japanese with US$1 trillion of reserves. Russia, India and Brazil total to another US$1 trillion.

Given the Chinese history in the last 100 years, the Chinese will not agree to any ‘hare-brained’ scheme by ‘tin-pot’ dictators, who are sitting on some raw materials – and think that the future belongs to them. The world has so many of this variety, that it does not require me to be specific.

Even a serious attempt by the EU, with the Euro, has not been able to significantly dent the dollar market share! Apart from the Euro, in the the last 10 years, there have been at least 3 half-baked – and unbaked attempts to break the dollar hegemony. So, there you have it – it is out in the open!

What can you do about the Chinese question?

The Way Out

China, in its own short term interest (importantly) and long term interest (definitely) needs to find a way out!

Buying gold in such large quantities is not possible – there will simply be no deliveries. Increasing import ‘trade volumes’ is also difficult – as what more can China import. It cannot send many more Chinese on holidays! They don’t have the single-mindedness of the Indians – when it comes to buying gold.

What it can do is buy Western firms! China has been always been a laggard in terms of growth in software! Maybe they can buy some software firms. The domestic Chinese entrepreneurial spirit has been damped in the last 100 years. What if the Chinese were to spend on some Venture Capital funds! What if China were to kick-start their fast-moving consumer goods industry by buying P&G!

The Chinese need to acquire some big ticket assets – for about US$1.5 trillion and bring down their reserves to US$0.5 trillion. This will reduce US outstanding debt, create demand for US stocks, lift the Dow Jones, and create value for the dollar. As I see it this is the only way that the Chinese can cash in their chips. The House will not let them take it away any other way.

And then the Chinese are free to join any currency bloc – or even initiate one!

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Country Model Of The West

Posted in Current Affairs, European History, Feminist Issues, Gold Reserves, History, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on February 7, 2008

Chinese R & D SpendsThe Myth Of Western Technology

In the last 50 years, after WW2, the rise of Japan, Korea and China in manufacturing and technology and the Indian software success, have taken away the sheen from the myth of Western technological prowess. Post colonial revisions in history are eroding the euro-centric version of biased history.

Failed Westernisations

For some time, the easy way out seemed to be ‘copycat’ westernisation. One of the first ‘copycat’ states was China. China, led by Sun Yat Sen, (original name Sun Wen and started calling himself Yat-sen; Chinese call him Sun Zhongshan), was the first major power which tried going down the western path. The Japanese invasion of Manchuria sounded the death knell of the Chinese Republic and Monarchy.

China – Mao & Sun

Sun Yat Sen decided to westernise and make China into a Republican democracy. Chinese were made to cut their queue – pleated hair braids. This diktat was enforced in 20 days time. Sun Yatsen and later Mao Ze Dong made the Chinese change their dress styles too. The effect of this westernisation – an enduring sense of being followers. The Chinese add a western name to their Chinese one – Michael Tang, Bruce Lee, Jerry Yang, Tommy Tang, Tommy Chi.

In Hong Kong and Macao, white tourists are royalty. Chinese companies routinely parade White, Western investors – and the Chinese investors follow. Western marriage ceremony, Chinese couples think, is very romantic. The Christian Church wedding is common in China.

Not that Indians are too far behind – consider Steve Sanghi, Paul Parmar, or the best of them all, Bobby Jindal.

Mustafa Kemal AtaturkAtaturk’s Turkey

Turkey – led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the next ‘copycat’ attempt at westernisation. After WW1, the victorious allied powers dismantled the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was reduced to a rump state.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was ‘installed’ by Western powers. Thereafter, Turkey has lurched from crisis to another. Post WW2, it has mostly been ruled by military dictatorships. From an arbiter in Europe, it has become a supplicant, begging for entry into EU. Instead of the queue in China – it was beards in Turkey. Atatürk enforced a new dress code on the hapless Turks – and the traditional fez was banned. Stop wearing the fez or else …

Russia – Westernising Since Peter The Great

Peter the Great, (of the Naryshkin family) co-ruler of Russia, (along with Ivan of the Miloslavsky family) ruled from 1682-1725. For more than 40 years, his agenda was to create Russia in the Western mould. His travels to Germany, Britain, Sweden (before becoming a Tsar) shaped this agenda.

One of the first things he did after becoming a Tsar was to ask his boyars (Russian nobility) to shave their beards! Catherine The Great continued this during her reign from 1762-1796. For the next 125 years, Russia vacillated between a medieval country and modern western country.

Now, the imprisoned oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky takes pains to show how Russia is a western nation and should be democracy. Khodorkovsky, who at one time nursed political ambition, says, “…I’m convinced that Russia is a European country, it’s a country with democratic traditions …”

How Every US Dollar Is SpentThe Anglo-Saxon Country Business Model

These Turkish and Chinese failures down the western garden path is to mistake the trees for the forest. There are five major features of the Anglo-Saxon country model which these countries did not copy. Not that I am recommending that they be copied.

The Use Of Corporations

The use of the British East India Company was an eye opener for the rest of the West. After Vasco da Gama’s discovery of trade route to India (for Europeans) round Africa, the British were the first of the block – with the English East India Company formed in the 1600.

The Dutch started soon after with the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Co.) in 1602. The Danish Opperhoved initially started in 1616 and was reborn in 1732, as Asiatisk Kompagni. The Portuguese organised themselves as chartered company in 1628. The French came with the French East India Co. in 1664. The Swedes joined the rat race in 1731 with Svenska Ostindiska Companiet. The Italians came in as the Genoa East India companies. The Hanseatic League had its own operations.

In North America, the Hudson Bay Company (Compagnie de la Baie d’Hudson in French) was given a Royal Charter in 1670 by Charles II. It practically owned Canada when the Dominion of Canada was formed – and is the oldest surviving company in North America. It monopoly ended only in 1870 – a few years after the Indian Independence War of 1857.

Anglo-American Oil Company (subsidiary of Standard Oil) of Iran plotted the the assassination of Iran’s Prime Minister Haj Ali Razmara and the overthrow of the Mohammed Mossadegh regime. Thereafter, it was the puppet regime of Shah Of Iran which terrorised Iran for 30 years that paved the way for return of Ayatollah Khomeini – and Iran’s regression to medieval times. And who was leading this campaign – Kermit Roosevelt (Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson).New Clues to JFK’s Murder?

In South America

In 1997, the CIA de-classified papers which admitted it planned and executed the coup in Guatemala – something that was known all along. This was done to protect the interests of the United Fruit Company – which owned large tracts of agricultural land in South America, used South American labour and shipped out fruit to America. Guatemalan farmers were run out of the market.

When Guatemala proposed land reforms so that Guatemalans could prosper in Guatemala, the Government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown. By the way, the term Banana republics came into being from the frequent intervention of the US into South American countries – and then ridiculing these countries for instability. To obtain US Governmental intervention, the United Fruit Company engaged services of Edward Louis Bernays (Sigmund Freud’s nephew) as PR front man.

Good ole DaysThe last 100 years saw the use of these companies as a means to economic dominance. ITT was used in South America for installing and removing dictators

… ITT papers published by Jack Anderson in March 1972, and in the hearings on these papers conducted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a year later. This material establishes that offers of financial aid aimed at stopping Allende were made by ITT president Harold S. Geneen to the CIA in July 1970 and to Henry Kissinger’s office in September” (Foreign Affairs; January 1974).

Had Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger not responded to International Telephone & Telegraph and Pepsi-Cola by overthrowing Salvador Allende, Chile “would have found a less violent, more constitutional way out of its conundrum.” writes Stephen Kinzer in his book Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq.

To gain control of the Panama Canal Company, the operator of the Panama Canal, US engineered the secession of Panama from Colombia. With a puppet Government in place, The Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty allowed the U.S. to build the Panama Canal. Subsequent interventions to advance Western oil interests in Colombia and the Canal interests in Panama have reduced Governmental authority in these countries. Drug cartels, kidnapping and ransom now control the economy of these countries.

Nearer home, of course, the next ruler of Pakistan (military or otherwise) is decided by US – at least for now.

First Gold Discovery In AustraliaThe Cornering Of Gold Supplies

For the last 150 years, the ABC countries (America, Australia, Britain, Canada) comprising the Anglo-Saxon bloc (countries, colonies and companies) have controlled 90% of the world’s gold production. Till (a large part of) India was a British Colony, they also controlled more than 50% of the above-the-ground gold reserves. This gave them absolute liberty to print depreciating currency and flood the world pieces of paper(called dollars and pounds), manipulate the world financial system and keep other populations poor and backward.

Enslavement & Annihilation Of The Natives

They could capture gold supplies by the annihilation of native populations in America and Canada (‘Red Indians’ are tourist attractions now), killed the aborigines in Australia (and apologise now).

Till the middle of 19th century, raw slavery continued. By mid 19th century new forms of slavery was introduced – indentured labour, share cropping, etc. They re-invented slavery (in the 20th century again) and renamed it as apartheid which made native populations into slaves. They could, of course, truthfully claim that great Anglo-Saxon frontiersmen discovered gold and settled empty continents – in ‘hostile conditions’.

https://i0.wp.com/img219.imageshack.us/img219/2897/koreausaflagmashupob5.gifThe Creation Of Client Sates

Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, most of South America – have been reduced to the situation of client states. The basic position is Uncle Sam knows best – or else! These states have become production centres for the USA, cheap labour will be given an ‘opportunity’ to serve the ‘master’ states.

All these states also have significant military presence of the Anglo-Saxon Bloc which is a matter of concern for India.

Elephants in the room

Western models, which have evolved through the prism of slavery, colonialism, genocide, concentration of power are an end-of-life model. To use end-of-life products may seem like a low cost solution in the short run. The bigger issue in most cases is the  lock-in effect that these legacy systems impose on the ‘buyers’ – e.g. Singapore.

The western model of (natural and people) exploitation has runs its course – for instance, in India even salt was made into a high-tax commodity. It is a dead-end model. Parts of this model, have been used successfully by other countries – Japan with its keiretsus and Koreans with their chaebol. But obviously, this is a model that the West is an expert in – and what others copy, the West has finished with. Copycat models allow the west to predict the next steps easily and taken competitive actions with certainty. The answer for others is to create another country model. The only country which has tried this is India.

The Alternate Model

Bharat-tantra, the Indic political system that depends on local justice, low-policing, non-state free-coinage /gold-as-currency, absence of religion, property rights for all, low-tax systems, free-labour (as opposed to slave labour), enterprise instead of employment, wealth-and-property distribution instead of concentration, is the model that has a future – and a record of past success.

India, where non-State reform has played a very major role in crime, policing (JP’s dacoit reform), land reform (Vinoba Bhave’s Bhoodan movement), political change (JP’s Sampoorna Kranti movement). After the economic buffer from Bombay High oil discovery in 1974, the Indian State has certainly, steadily shed various aspects of its colonial legacy. More importantly, India did not go through the slavery-colonialism-capitalism route at all.

It has instead inching towards a republican, (largely) market-driven, democratic, declining role of State, multi-ethnic-religion-linguistic political model which is unique in modern history. What India needs to do is to one decrease the colonial inheritances further. Deliberate amnesia by historians, has obscured Bharat-tantra. India is today slotted as a socialist country – where as it has been reducing the features of a socialist State.

The underestimated and undermined political leadership in India, has worked at renewing  the Indian model – which is non-exploitative, stable and can bring equity and growth. It is this model that before others, India (and Indians) should believe in – and beat a modern path for the world to follow.

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China’s Bullion Reserves – Gold, Silver and Silk

Posted in Gold Reserves, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on November 26, 2007

Modern economic research estimates that through most of last 1000 years, China and India have accounted for about 50% of the world economy. 20th century was different for both. While Indian gold based systems are better known, Chinese gold story is very different.

1. China & Neighbours – Gold Producers

India was always an importer of gold. Domestic gold production in India’s core geography has historically been negligible – or low.

China, on the other is different. Mongolia and China have been significant gold producers in history. Estimated gold reserves from current ore mining in China exceed 600 tons – and exploration efforts are expected to increase this to 3000-3500 tons. China is the world’s 4th largest producer of gold – ahead of USA and behind Australia, and expected to overtake South Africa soon.

Currently, illegal mining in China is big time activity and is indicted for supporting poaching!. Chinese were exporters of gold and silks.

2. Chinese – Great believers in silver

Chinese common coin was a silver coin – the tael (which came from the Malay word tahil; which came from Indian word tol; meaning ‘measure’). There were 2 taels – one was commercially pure silver ingot of one Chinese ounce called a liang. The other was a kuping tael – which was coin. Bulk silver was used as currency and called sycee. There were many other taels like Tsaoping, Peking, Tientsin, Hankow, Canton. Chinese also use silver jewellery – against gold preferred by Indian women

3. Chinese invention of Paper

Jiaozi - circulated in Sichuan in the Chunhua period of Emperor Taizong of Song Dynasty

Jiaozi - circulated in Sichuan in the Chunhua period of Emperor Taizong of Song Dynasty

Chinese rulers circulated paper money for longer (from 6th century onwards) and greater area than any country in the world. The first paper currency jiaozi was issued in 6th century – which collapsed very soon. The Song dynasty re-introduced paper currency in 9th century due to copper shortage. Probably, some Jewish merchants were also involved in the jiaozi manufacture.

Kublai Khan’s (a descendant of Genghis Khan) paper money management meant that all Chinese had to deposit all gold (or be prepared to die) with the Khan’s treasury and they got a currency note which was trade-able. This ‘system’ received wide publicity in Europe (thanks to Marco Polo). 600 years later, Roosevelt did the same with the Americans – and collected 8000 tons of gold.

4. Opium & China

Western consumers bought tea, silks and other Chinese commodities for which they paid in silver. The Chinese did not need much of Western goods – like India. To correct this negative balance of trade, Europeans promoted opium in China. When Chinese resisted the Opium trade, wars followed.

In early 19th century AD, Opium imports into China by British, French, American, Dutch, Spanish traders, sourced from India led to an outflow of silver from China – and a currency crisis. The ruling Qing state went into a downward spiral– culminating in the Chinese Civil War and rise of Communism. The Kuomintang (supported by Chinese underworld, The Green Gang, The Red Gang and The Blue Gang) was pitted against the Mao Ze Dong’s Communist Party – and both were armed and supported by Western powers.

Opium for China was produced by indebted Indian farmers and a few Parsi traders set up their offices in Hong Kong. However, the Parsi role diminished after the advent of steamships, their big losses during the Opium Wars and the rise of the cotton trade. Other Indian traders, possibly restricted by shubh labh’ compunctions played a lesser role (compared to the European traders) in this Opium trade.

Major opium trading companies like Jardine Matheson, David Sasoon & Company and sundry traders set up The Hong Kong & Shanghai Banking Corporation for facilitating this misery. The Chinese Opium problem was finally solved by several draconian measures during Communist rule.

5. Wars In China

When Chinese resisted the Opium flood, Western traders resorted to war. The Japanese emboldened by new found wealth and military technology, joined Western powers. The Sino Japanese Wars, The Opium Wars with Europeans and The Boxer Uprising before WW1 imposed large war reparations on the Chinese. The Civil War in China between the world wars destroyed Chinese commerce systems. The Cultural Revolution has left the Chinese commercially backward.

6. How did the Chinese preference for silver affect them?

In 1500, the approximate exchange ratio between gold liang and and silver liang was 1:4. Today it is 1:50. Silver mineral deposits, mining and availability is more elastic than gold. Elasticity of gold production is very low. Secondly, above ground supplies of gold are far higher than known below the ground estimates. Hence, manipulation of gold prices over a period of time is difficult.

Touchy ... feely ... selly ... silly ...

Touchy … feely … selly … silly …

7. Current Status

China, as the world’s largest holder of US dollar debt is constrained in its move to increasing gold reserves through market operations. A dollar sell off by China could collapse the world’s currency system – and the biggest loser would be the Chinese! But a negotiated conversion of some dollar reserves to gold is eminently possible.

Between 2000-2007, the Chinese Government increased their monetary gold reserves from more than 300 tons, to more than 600 tons. Official Gold Reserves of Chinese Central Bank Gold reserves are about 600 tons of gold.

China has become the world’s 3rd largest consumer of gold – up from a 100 tons to 350 tons. The Shanghai Gold Exchange has made it easier for individuals to invest in gold. They have reduced the transaction size from 1 kg to 100 gm.

8. Possible Chinese Strategy

China’s investment in US$3 billion in Blackstone Private Equity /hedge fund, was the first by any country. This gives China an inside track to the world’s largest hedge fund and private equity player. The Blackstone Fund on the other, gets access to the world’s largest liquid reserve – more than 1 trillion dollars of the Chinese Government’s monetary reserves.

China is setting up a US$200 billion sovereign fund that will invest in range of markets and instruments. With this institutional framework, for China to increase their monetary reserves by a 1000-2000 tonnes is well within realm of possibility.

9. The 2ndlook alternative (Oct.3, 2008, update)

Chinese assets ...

Chinese assets …

In any new world financial reform proposal, the Chinese voice will be very important. After all they are the world’s largest creditor nation! They have US$2 trillion worth of IOUs with them. Of course, the composition of these US$2 trillion Chinese reserves is a state secret.

The Chinese will not agree to any ‘hare-brained’ scheme by ‘tin-pot’ dictators, who are sitting on some raw materials – and think that the future belongs to them. The world has so many of this variety, that it does not require me to be specific.

The Chinese need to acquire some big ticket assets – maybe, some big US companies, for about US$1.5 trillion and bring down their reserves to US$0.5 trillion. This will reduce US outstanding debt, create demand for US stocks, lift the Dow Jones, and create value for the dollar. As I see it this is the only way that the Chinese can cash in their chips. The House will not let them take it away any other way.

10. What does this mean for others

China, the largest creditor nation in the world, carries a big stick. They are not democratically accountable and transparency is not required from them. Hence, a significant conversion from dollar holdings to gold is feasible, can be done quietly (hence, at an economic price) and with trade power they have, a strong negotiating position is a given.

And that is an opportunity others may not get!

In the last 150 years, strong monetary gold reserves have been a feature of Western monetary systems (acquired mostly, by  dubious means like slavery, genocide). China’s moves, if any, will diversify global monetary reserve systems away from the dollar and the West and spread the weightage in a more equitable manner – giving rise to speculation about a renminbi bloc.

And that is something that is good for global monetary system.

What should India do …

Oil Dollar Tango

Oil Dollar Tango

Two years ago …

This post had estimated that the Chinese could possibly (and they have)  increase their monetary gold reserves. On April 24th, 2009, Bloomberg reported that China had increased

its (gold) reserves by 454 tons to 1,054 tons through domestic purchases and refining scrap metal, Hu Xiaolian, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency today. China, the world’s biggest gold producer, has increased its holdings before, Hu said in the interview carried on the administration Web Site. They rose from 394 tons to 500 tons in 2001 and to 600 tons in 2003. The U.S. has the world’s biggest gold holdings at 8,134 tons, followed by Germany with 3,413 tons, World Gold Council data show. France has 2,487 tons and Italy 2,452 tons, while the IMF has 3,217 tons, according to the council.

Another report, from Market Watch, a WSJ web publication added,

The increase makes China the world’s fifth-largest holder of gold, just ahead of Switzerland, and among the six nations plus the International Monetary Fund that have reserves of more than 1,000 metric tons. Although Hu did not elaborate on where China had sourced the additional bullion, her comments were interpreted as meaning they came from domestic sources and may included refining of scrap metal.  Traders also say the gold was accumulated systematically over a number of years. Last year China ranked as the world’s largest gold producer with 12.2% of world output, equivalent to 288 metric tons. The U.S. ranked second with a 9.9% share, or 234 metric tons.

What are the future plans of the Chinese? A report quotes an analyst

China should increase its gold reserve from 600 tons to about 2,500 tons in a short term and to 3,000 tons in a long term to cope with the versatile exchange rate risks, said Teng Tai, an economist of China Galaxy Securities Company.

Of course, this really does not mean much – except that it may keep gold prices on boil. Whether a currency is backed by a 5% or a 10% gold reserve may not mean much, in this era of rampant use of “a technology, called a printing press” as an economic tool – not just by the US of A. For long term economic stability, gold needs to be in the hands of individuals – and not Governments.

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