2ndlook

The Third Currency Option – Junk the Dollar and the Euro

Europe’s Been Onto Something … While the US gently weeps

The EU region calling for a ‘G8 + India & China’ conference to thrash out this global monetary issue – and has been twisting the knife in the reluctant US side. The US has been dragging its feet. While the EU has been going gung-ho on this, the US has been floating many trial balloons.

Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers have been co-opted by the President-elect of the US – Barack Obama. There has been talk of a manipulation in bullion prices – which may be required for re-anchoring currencies. Interesting deals – considered impossible till a few years, are being done in a tearing hurry.

Europe would obviously like to break the dollar hegemony – and muscle into the racket. They know the Third World-Russia-China are not prepared.

And what do Europeans want – some seats at the global regulatory table, to force US moneybags (for now) and others to seek approvals, which will come at a cost … or is it that the approvals will come at a price …

Which will solve no one’s problems … back to square one …

The US Gameplan

US analysts, led by Paul Krugman, have been calling for Barack Obama to emulate Roosevelt – who waded into WW2, with 25,000 tons of nationalized gold. If gold is nationalized, it may depress demand in the short term – giving rise to huge volatility in gold prices. But Warren Buffett has been on the silver bandwagon for a while – and that is making the gold-silver equation hazy. What if Warren Buffet becomes the new US Treasury Chief? There is the real risk of another fraud like the gold standard happening all over again.

The US has been making its moves – differently. Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize is an indication of this. Will the US use Paul Krugman as the Keynes of the Bretton Woods. The background of Bretton Woods itself, is of course, something that the US and Europe do not want the world at large to know.

The financial stimulus plan hasn’t even a snow flakes chance in hell – as there are no targets left who can be funded. Industrial corporations are lip deep in debt. The housing sector is knackered. The tech sector has over capacity. No go, no show.

What Has Been India upto? Either … or …

India seems to completely lack direction on how to move independently in times like these. After, all why should India even look at IMF and World Bank – which are fig leaf organizations of the West, as transfer mechanisms of wealth from the Third World to the rich.

Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in the last 60 days – the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement – and now his three Asian nation visits. India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving.

India is unlikely to get seriously affected by the current crisis – which is possibly creating complacency in India about what needs to be done.Or India is working on a different plan, of which we know nothing. After all, India does believe in moving steadily (even, if slowly).

Are we reading too much into this? At times, India has seemed clueless.

Russia and China – The DragoBear Dance

The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars – and what does China do with this? This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago – with a nearly US$400 billion reserves – flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate.

So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much. Russia and China can be the party poopers – but they cannot be the life of the party. Russia and China as significant military powers as well as a part of P5, will want their pound of flesh. They will, of course, be afraid of being left out!

Among the P5, US and EU have their own reserve currencies – leaving Russia and China out in the open. Russia and China (as full P5 powers) will want a ‘lion’s share’ of influence in any new architecture. Which any Third World grouping will not give.

The US will not have them and the EU does not want them!

Stalemate.

Russia and China play blame-the-US game

The US has been evading transparency by not revealing M3 figures (on dubious grounds), printing money 24×7×365 and creating toxic assets. Now when the muck has hit the fan, they are acting coy. And this made the Chinese very angry.

China has alleged that the US has plundered the world – and is is now looking after its own. China alleges that the US is not bothered about the problems the US has created for other countries.

Late In the day, Mr.Hu … This is something that the world has been talking about for a long time. China has been a major supporter (and victim) of this scam – by allowing US companies unlimited access and support. Chinese citizens have been duped with low paying jobs at these enterprises.

Is China forgetting history … Mr.Hu – Today it is the US – but yesterday, it was Europe, Mr.Hu. Europe was blockaded by the US for the last 100 years – and hence, European loot is possibly forgotten in China. European loot was accompanied by a lot of bloodshed and killing also, Mr.Hu.

Has the Leopard Changed its spots Possibly, you dont know, Mr.Hu, because China has very little wildlife left. Leopards dont change their spots. Europe behaves today, because it has no options.

China is making common cause with EU over the dollar crisis. While Chinese disappointment is understandable, their actions are beyond comprehension. Just why will Europeans be bothered about Chinese welfare? Just look at their history!!

For that matter why in the world would anyone be interested in Chinese welfare – except the Chinese, of course. The Chinese Government is looking at all options – except Chinese welfare, unfortunately.

The answers A new currency floated by the five major economies who are most affected today – China, Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa. Maybe Japan will also join in. But, the answer, Mr.Hu is with these 5 – and not Europe.

OK … join the gang

Sometime back, Medvedev joined China in blaming the US. Now that the blame game is over, is it finished. Over. Satisfied with blaming the US, Mr.Medvedev.

Now what

Mr.Medvedev, now that you have blamed the US, are you better off. Apart from some (dubious) satisfaction, what else have you got.

Russia has a lot to feel bad about, I agree. US$400 billion is a lot of money – and to see it being printed out of existence, cannot be good. Sometime back China started the blame game – and now Russia has joined in. However, I am yet to see any constructive action. Especially from China and Russia.

Russia, China should join up with with Brazil, South Africa and India to present an alternative to the world community. With this grouping and backing, at least a 100 countries will sign up within 30 days.

Wakey, wakey, Mr.Medvedev. Let us get to work. Blaming the US gets us no where.

Japan + ASEAN

China-leaning Lee Kuan Yew with an Islamic Malaysia may not be very hot about ‘giving so much influence’ to a ‘new member’ like India for an ASEAN initiative. Any action which hurts the US, their largest market and patron, will be something that will make Japan and ASEAN hesitate. The very economic model of ASEAN + Japan is undervalued currency + exports to the USA. Hence, they will be wary of any initiative that affects the USA – and the West.

Status Quo …

And that is why South Africa and Brazil are essential for India. China and Russia must join in. The benefits are too obvious – and the fallout is non-existent!

The New 5 – Three Horsemen Of Apocalypse

The real action will be 5 countries – Russia and China on one hand – and India, South Africa and Brazil on the other.

The G3 (i.e. India, South Africa and Brazil) have functioning democracies, decent regulatory systems (which can be ramped up), the technology platforms, the trading systems, a vibrant entrepreneurial class – all of which is powering their economies forward. What they don’t have is P5 status – which is useful, though not essential.

This Washington meeting – Contours Of The Deal

During the con-fab, ‘committees will be set up’ which will create mechanisms for this management. The EU-USA-Asia may agree (for the time being) on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a Dollar-Euro currency regime. Some of Asia may want to cling to this Dollar-Euro skirt.

But what the BRICS must work on is a Third reserve currency for the Third World.

The new currency may an Asian-Developing world currency. The big issue for the developing world will be obtaining assurances against predatory raids by the dollar bloc and the Euro-zone to dismantle any new system – like the alleged plot of 1997 Asian crisis.The lesser issues will also be inter-bank settlements, anchoring currencies (the role of gold or bullion).

Following is a 2ndlook at the how the Third currency option will work.

The Organization for the 3rd currency option

Q: Who will handle this currency?

A: The BRIX Reserve Organization will be a the global body which will manage the operations of the BRIX currency. This organization will have initially shareholding by the BRICS countries – equally.

Q: What will happen when new shareholders come in?

A: The promoter shareholders will (later) offer shareholding to other countries to the extent of minimum 1% of total capital and not exceeding 5%. The promoter countries will gradually reduce their shareholding proportionately and equally by inducting other shareholders or selling existing shareholding to new shareholders.

Q: What will be the capital contribution by member countries?

Member countries will contribute to capital equal to 4000 tons of gold (but not gold). Capital will be increased by addition of new members and/or existing members. In case of exchange rate fluctuations, exchange rate will be based on 90 days average. In case of any significant decline in exchange value, concerned member country to make good the shortfall in capital contribution or face shift in member status.

Q: What will be the role of gold in BRIX-BRO system?

A: All citizens of member countries will be allowed to own and trade in gold – within and outside the country during peacetime. In cases of national emergencies, countries may impose export restrictions for a limited defined period.

Governments will not be required to maintain any gold balances at all.

Q: What will be the role of BRO?

A: Firstly to provide and maintain Realtime Settlement System (RSS) – a on line, real time, trading platform – for all the national currencies of member banks and countries. Additionally, there can be ‘permitted’ currencies’ – like the Dollar and the Euro, for trading in non-member currencies.

The RSS will enable participating members will be allowed to nett off transactions.Th BRO will also approve ‘standard packages’ for over-the-counter (OTC) trading of derivative products.

Q: How will BRO make money?

A: The RSS will earn fees through transaction fees and earnings from float – which currently is used by the US and ECB. Individual countries based on trade and production patterns can expand or contract currency supply. Based on supply and demand for individual currency, the RSS will aid the price discovery and setting. National Central Banks will be able to borrow or lend BRIX through the BRO.

Q: Who will man the BRO?

A: Banking specialists will be deputed from (initially, founder) member countries in equal proportion at each level in the organization. Over a period of time, the BRO will build it own cadre of banking specialists – starting with entry level candidates.

The Currency

Q: What will the currency be called?

A: Initially, the start up name of the currency unit can be BRIX.

Q: How will the BRIX currency look like?

A: The BRIX currency will only exist in bank accounts. It will not be printed, circulated physically or stored in vaults.

Q: What will happen to current US$-Euro reserves?

A: Initially all dollar reserves will be used to facilitate trade between member and non-member countries. The BRO will maintain Dollar /Euro reserves equal to 3 months requirements for member countries. Excess dollar reserves of member countries will drawn down gradually over 12-36 months based on market developments.

Q: How will monetary expansion of the BRIX be handled?

A: All monetary expansion of the BRO will happen through trade volumes and capital infusions. The BRO cannot print, monetize, expand money supply.

The Mechanics and Operations

Q: How will exchange rates be determined?

A: Demand and supply for currencies will determine exchange rates. Output of products, services, will create supply and demand for various currencies.

Q: Who will be allowed to trade on the RSS?

A: National currencies will be traded on electronic platforms with accredited traders, backed by institutional settlement system, trade guarantee – based on demand and supply for various national currencies.

Member Benefits

Q: What changes will countries need to make?

A: Very few. All transactions must be linked to the index currency – the BRIX. No country will be required to change from their current currency system. As trades happen, a BRIX amount will be created. As the payout happens, that many BRIX will be extinguished.

Q: What reserve requirements will be imposed on member countries?

A: All countries will be required to maintain a reserve of 1 month’s BRIX usage with the BRO. This amount will earn interest rate at market determined rates.

Q: What happens when countries go through emergencies, catastrophes or calamities?

A: In case of extreme volatility in any currency due to currency /economic /natural disaster, the BRO Board of Governors may approve loans – which will be guaranteed by the donor central banks. Loans by BRO will at all times will be covered by guarantees.

The benefit of this that any country can raise loans from BRO by finding sponsors. Thus hegemony by a few powerful country will not be possible. Thus a small economy (like say) Iceland can raise a loan by finding a consortium of guarantor (say African) countries.

National central banks may guarantee ‘interest’ payments or ‘interest+principal’ amounts. In case of normal commercial loans, the principal and interest repayments can be a commercial credit decision by the BRO.

Q: How will countries maintain their foreign currency reserves?

A: Countries will need to maintain minimal BRIX reserves. BRIX will be fully convertible into other currencies. However, since all national currencies will be convertible, the need will be minimal.

Q: What will be the disclosures and information requirements?

A: BRO will collate, circulate and publish information given by all member Governments regarding M3, currency, etc.

Safety, Checks & Balances

Q: What will happen when a ‘rogue’ Government prints too much money?

A: Whenever, exchange rate volatility exceeds the prescribed bands, BRO will impose trade restrictions after due inquiry.

Q: What about predatory currency traders?

A: Since, BRIX cannot be bought except by creating business trade, there cannot be large holdings of BRIX which can be used for predatory activities. National currencies of member countries can be at risk if excessive monetization happens. But, since, trading in all currencies will happen continuously, excessive monetization will first come to light in terms of excess supply and deterioration in exchange rates.

Q: What about fake currency?

A: The BRO will have its own mint and currency printing units which will print currencies for member countries. This will ensure that mala fide, fake currency by foreign agencies, criminal elements will be eliminated. The BRO may also insist that weak economies print their currency at the BRO mint to ensure that there is transparency in money supply.

Q: What about trade in Government debt and securities?

A: All member countries will be required to intimate and route transactions of Government debt, securities through the RSS. This will ensure that there will be complete transparency in debt, M3, etc.

End game

With a BRICS grouping behind an initiative outlined above, a 100 countries will join this system within 30 days. Japan will defect – as will some poorer European countries. OPEC countries will dither – and then join. Singapore and Malaysia may also dither for some time – but will finally join. Most of Africa, South America and Asia will sign up.

With US$6 trillion amongst the BRICS, Japan, ASEAN and Africa, the Third currency Bloc can give a huge financial stimulus to the global economy. Poorer countries can jump start industrialization – and massive orders for high tech equipment can be placed with Japan, EU and USA to jump start their economies.

New Global Reserve Currency – Connecting the dots – Part 2

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on October 23, 2008

ECB’s Nowotny Sees Global `Tri-Polar’ Currency System Evolving Bloomberg.com: Worldwide

European Central Bank council member Ewald Nowotny said a “tri-polar” global currency system is developing between Asia, Europe and the U.S … leaders of the U.S., France and the European Commission will ask other world leaders to join in a series of summits on the global financial crisis beginning in the U.S. soon after the Nov. 4 presidential election, President George W. Bush, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a joint statement yesterday.

European leaders have pressed to convene an emergency meeting of the world’s richest nations, known as the Group of Eight, joined by others such as India and China, to overhaul the world’s financial regulatory systems. … Sarkozy wants the G8 to consider re-anchoring their currencies, the hallmark of the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement that also gave birth to the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Europe’s Been Onto Something … While the US gently weeps

The EU region calling for a ‘G8 + India & China’ conference to thrash out this global monetary issue – and has been twisting the knife in the reluctant US side. The US has been dragging its feet. While the EU has been going gung-ho on this, the US has been floating many trial balloons. Warren Buffet, Paul Volcker and Lawrence Summers have been co-opted by the likely President of the US – Barack Obama. There has been talk of a manipulation in bullion prices – which may be required for re-anchoring currencies. Interesting deals – considered impossible till a few years, are being done in a tearing hurry.

Imagine! The EU in the middle of a global crisis goes out and restores diplomatic ties with Cuba.

The US Gameplan

US analysts, led by Paul Krugman, have been calling for Barack Obama (or maybe McCain) to emulate Roosevelt – who waded into WW2, with 25,000 tons of nationalized gold. If gold is nationalized, it may depress demand in the short term – giving rise to huge volatility in gold prices. But Warren Buffett has been on the silver bandwagon for a while – and that is making the gold-silver equation hazy. What if Warren Buffet becomes the new US Treasury Chief? There is the real risk of another fraud like the gold standard happening all over again.

The US has been making its moves – differently. Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize is an indication of this. Will the US use Paul Krugman as the Keynes of the Bretton Woods. The background of Bretton Woods itself, is of course something that the US and Europe do not want the world at large to know. The other ploy that is being bandied about is the re-launch of the fraud called the Gold Standard – now in a better packing.

The Oil-Dollar Tango

The Oil-Dollar Tango

What Has Been India Upto?

While the US has been resisting calls for action, busy doing post-mortem, Asia and Europe have been moving. Interestingly, Manmohan Singh has done some huge work in the last 60 days – the nuclear deal with the USA and NSG, the IBSA Summit, the ASEAN free trade agreement – and now his three Asian nation visits. India’s Trade and Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, has been talking about a multi-lateral set up. The UN was made to issue a statement on this. Am I reading too much into this? At times, India has seemed clueless.

After the ministerial meeting, both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister PC Chidambaram talked about how the ‘developed’ world’ was now ‘listening’ to the developing world – and was willing to ‘give more representation.’

This language itself indicates the distance that the Third World needs to travel.

China and Russia

The big issue is of course, China and Russia. China has 2 trillion of US dollars – and what does China do with this? Russia has come out from a default about a decade ago – with a nearly US$400 billion reserves – flexing its muscles in Georgia and dependent on a high oil prices. What happens to Russia if a new Pacific Republic (Cuba, Haiti, West Indies, etc) were to start drilling for oil? In 5 years, the world would be awash with oil – and Russia’s mineral earnings could evaporate. This crisis seems to have made the Chinese Premier shaky. So, the world may not trust China and Russia too much. Russia and China can be the party poopers – but they cannot be the life of the party.

For financial and military reasons, the inclusion of Russia and China is useful – though not essential to the emergence of a tri-polar currency system. The cost of Russian and Chinese inclusion is high degree of influence that these ‘super powers’ will want – which the developing world will not approve.

Why supplant one form of exploitation with another?

Contours Of The Deal

The EU-USA-Asia may agree on a broad a global regulatory and oversight body to monitor and maintain oversight over a multiple currency regime – an improved, better IMF.

The new 3rd currency may take some time to figure out. Not that it is difficult, expensive, or impossible. Some of Asia may want to cling to the dollar skirt. The new currency may be an Asian-Developing world currency. This may see the emergence of a tri-polar currency regime – which the US and Europe duopoly is desperate to avoid.

The 2ndlook proposal for the Third Global Reserve Currency has been in circulation for some time now.

Nixon Chop And Bush Whack

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, European History, Gold Reserves, History, Indo Pak Relations by Anuraag Sanghi on September 24, 2008
The Bush Era Balanced Score Card

The Bush Era Balanced Score Card

The Dollar-Oil Tango

From the Nixon Chop to the Bush Whack, in the final months of Dubya’s Presidency, the Bush Family has been in the Presidency for 12 years of the 37 years. And in positions of lesser power for the entire period. George Bush Sr. was the US representative to the UN during the Nixon era – when Nixon made his infamous remarks to Kissinger about the ‘sanctimonious Indians’ who had pissed on us (the US) on the Vietnam War’. George Bush Sr. was also with the CIA and the US Vice President during the 8 years of Reagan Presidency.

During these 37 years – between the Nixon Chop (1971) and the Bush Whack (2008), the world has changed significantly.

Every Few Years

Every 10-25 years, the world seems to go from one financial crisis to another. Trucks full of economic analysis follow each crisis – and everyone agrees after each meltdown, that there will not be another catastrophe. What the poor (and not so poor) economists don’t see is that the Anglo Saxon bloc with 80% of the world’s gold production in a choke-hold does what it wants. And the second element – they also control and influence 80% of the Oil production.

Why has this system been such a failure? Simple!

Oil & Dollars

After the Nixon Chop, the OPEC went into a huddle. After all they were selling a limited resource against payment through pieces of paper. After the Nixon Chop, the chain of events, post 1970 developments were as follows: –

The international monetary developments as of 15 August 1971 prompted OPEC, in its meeting in Beirut on 22 September 1971, to call for negotiations with the oil companies holding concessions in member countries. By 14 January 1972 there was no progress in negotiations. OPEC, in spite of a total loss of more than 11.5%, was asking for a hike of only 8.57% –- which was the loss in value of the US dollar relative to gold. In fact, what OPEC was asking for was very close to what the International Maritime Conference had, at the time, announced: a minimum increase in the dollar freight rates of 8.6%. Finally, an agreement was reached in Geneva on 20 January 1972 that provided an immediate increase in the posted prices by 8.49%. The settlement also included provisions for further adjustments until 1975 based on an index that reflected changes in the dollar and other key currencies.

Concurrently, on October 17th 1973, OAPEC members (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced embargo against shipping oil to all countries supporting Israel in the the ongoing Yom Kippur War against Syria, Egypt and Iraq – i.e. the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. Non Arab OPEC members decided to leverage their power to raise world oil prices, after the failure of negotiations with the Oil Companies (then popularly called “Seven Sisters”).

The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency. Europe tied with Russia for the trans-Europe gas pipeline. North Sea Oil production was ramped up. Norway and other countries also increased their output. Thus while not fully dependent on the OPEC, this served an important purpose – to demonstrate that the West and OPEC were on opposite sides, whereas the truth was opposite.

OPEC and West – Partners In Loot

Actually, the West saw a transfer of wealth, all over again from the Third World, via the OPEC Petro Dollars. The dollar regime was significantly beneficial to the Western World in general – and US in particular. The Oil dollar linkage allowed the US to create global reserves with other countries of US$6 trillion in just foreign exchange reserves. Other debt and trade add upto another US$14 trillion.

Approx US$20 trillion is the amount of dollars that the OPEC has managed to transfer from the Third World to the West. But the unhappy outcome of the Oil Crisis of the ’73 (for the West) was the riches and power of the Arab countries. What followed was a rising crescendo of Islamic Demonization for the last 37 years.

Oil output is currently over-valued as Western producers and OPEC jointly rig up prices. The Rest of the world pays (recently its is largely India and China) – and pays in dollars which again benefits the West.

The West limits its own output to keep up the prices. OPEC has the advantage of high oil prices. The petro dollars are reinvested back in the West. Finally, OPEC gained – and so did the West.

Who paid!

Mostly poor Indians and Chinese. And even poorer Africans.

Bush Whacked

Bush Whacked

War, Oil , Dollars & The Middle East

The justifications for invading Iraq given by the USA, were finally found to be false. The invasion was finally not related to 9/11. Iraq did not have any WMDs either. So, what was were the reasons for Iraqi invasion?

A ring side observer, former Indian Ambassador to Iraq, Ranjit Singh Kalha’s book, ‘The Ultimate Prize’ makes some interesting observations on the genesis of the Iraq invasion.

“The first mistake Saddam made was when he decided in October 2000 to move away from using US dollars as the currency for oil exports, …under the UN ‘oil-for-food’ programme.” Saddam also converted Iraq’s USD 10 billion reserve fund from US dollars to Euros. “Although this act of Saddam was not of very great economic significance in overall terms, it represented for the United States a direct challenge to the use of the dollar as a currency for transactions,” … in his just-released book, “The Ultimate Prize”. Iran followed Saddam’s move and Venezuela started initiating barter deals outside the dollar system. “If most other Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) followed the Iraqi and Iranian example, the stability of the US dollar would be at stake,” Kalha, who was posted in Baghdad during the tumultuous 1992-94 period, says.

Sidelined to the (Indian) National Human Rights Commission, Kalha’s book was also buried under a mound of silence, not reviewed and made no impression in the popular media. One press release by PTI was recycled by The Economic Times, Outlook, Sahara Samay, The Hindu, India Today, and NDTV. Google and Live Search hardly turned up anything. Yahoo.co.in showed some these links.

Bush Whacking Iraq

Bush Whacking Iraq

Iran and Venezuela followed Iraq and also moved away from designating oil sales in US dollars. After the Bretton Woods-I collapse, instead of gold, it was oil that anchored the US currency. West Asian Oil producers agreed to denominate oil in dollars after the Nixon Chop – and in turn there was no real resistance by the West to OPEC oil cartel increase oil prices by a factor of 10.

Western Oil companies also acted in concert with OPEC by limiting their own oil production. From around 4 dollars a barrel to US$40. The West was relatively unscathed – as these petro-dollars were re-invested back in the West. Europe managed to insulate itself with the North Sea Oil (Britain, Norway were the main producers along with Germany and Denmark. Europe also concluded a deal with Russia for a pipeline into Europe. North Sea Oil Production peaked in 1999-2000 with a 6 million barrels per day.

India was also not highly impacted as Bombay High started production in 1974. It was the rest of the Third World which paid this bill.

Bretton Woods – I & II

As Ron Paul noted,

“The agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in dollars has provided tremendous artificial strength to the dollar as the preeminent reserve currency. This has created a universal demand for the dollar, and soaks up the huge number of new dollars generated each year.”

The Bretton Woods-I system worked for from 1945-1971 (26 years) years because Indians were not allowed to buy gold. India’s finance minster during that crucial period, Morarji Desai, (allegedly on CIA payroll during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency 1963-1968), presented a record 10 budgets, between February 1958, up to 1967.

Bretton Woods-II, based on oil-dollar anchor, worked for another 35 years (1973-2008) till now. Oil exploration is a 5-10 year investment. Oil should be made another commodity. An easy option is to create a Republic of Pacific Islands – Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, and other West Indies. These islands can become vast oil production centres – that will help them raise their economies and can feed Asia with oil, peacefully.

The third currency bloc is essential – and it can happen only if India and South Africa decide to make it happen.

123 Agreement – What Manubhai Does Not Tell Us, But Hurts Us

Posted in Business, Current Affairs, Environment, Gold Reserves, Media, Uncategorized by Anuraag Sanghi on September 20, 2008

We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow” Lord Viscount Palmerston, 1848

Story Till Now

The 123 Agreement and the NSG waiver for Nuclear trade with India, has raised a lot of heat and dust – within India and abroad. MJ Akbar (on 21st September, on Times Now, News Channel), described this deal as ‘more unclear than nuclear.’

Within India, the opposition BJP Party was supported by the ex-ally of the ruling Congress party. PM Manmohan Singh (Manu for readers of this blog) staked his personal standing for this deal.

The Indian and US Governments have been touting this deal as something that will end power shortages in India, reduce green house emissions, lower electricity costs.

The opposition BJP sees this as a sell out of India’s sovereignty. The Leftist CPI(M), an ex-ally of the ruling party, claims that this is the start of an strategic relationship with US – an undesirable partner. Independent Indian analysts claim that the US has an hidden agenda of re-energising its ‘moribund nuclear industry.’ Independent Western analysts claim that this will give a boost to India’s weaponization program.

Almost all of these miss the main motivations, both Indian and US, for pushing this deal.

Cost of Nuclear Power

Our own Manubhai has been promising the Indians that India will be a power surplus and /or a power-full country – thanks to his 123 Nuclear Deal! Now, everyone who knows something about nuclear energy, knows that this is not true.

At one end of the spectrum, on the true cost of nuclear power, an analyst, Bharat Karnad writes, “…if you thought Dabhol electric power at Rs7-8 per unit was scandalous, wait for electricity units priced at Rs.30 or more.” This is based on a reactor cost of US$9-10 billion. Another writer estimates “Areva is pitching the new EPR reactor design … earning between €2.5bn and €5bn for each reactor”Florida utility Progress Energy’s estimate of $14 billion for two AP-1000 designed by Westinghouse (…translates … to … $6,000/kW) … imported nuclear reactors will produce electricity at costs that would be simply unaffordable.”

The US experience with nuclear power is similar. A study confirms, “commercial nuclear power from new nuclear plants has become the most expensive form of commonly used baseload electric power in the United States.” Independently, US plans to refurbish old reactors that, “The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to reopen … Browns Ferry 1 nuclear reactor this month – 22 years after it was shut …after spending … $1.8 billion on the overhaul – almost as much as a new plant is supposed to cost …The last one was Watts Bar 1, also a TVA plant, in Spring City, Tennessee, in 1996.”

NPCIL Executive Director Sudhinder Thakur maintains:

“The cost in France and the US and the cost in India are vastly different. The purchasing power parity index is also applicable to nuclear reactors. When you build a reactor here, costs come down dramatically.”

Giving credence to Mr.Thakur and also the various analysts ranged against him, adopting median estimates of lower reactor costs, will still make electricity from nuclear energy at the higher end of the price spectrum.

Low electricity generation costs as the raison d’etre, doesnt cut any ice – not now, not with me, at least!

India‘s Nuclear Weaponization

Karat ot this call wrong!

Karat ot this call wrong!

For making weapons grade plotonium, the cost of CANDU reactors is much lower– as is also the cost of India built Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). So India’s need for reactors to make weapons grade plutonium is not a feasible reason for the deal.

India today does not need to go anywhere for any reactors for production of weapons grade plutonium. If the technology denial regime continues for another 5-10 years, India will anyway, re-invent a better wheel, at a lower cost – and best of luck to France, which today has the best re-processing technology.

We don’t want to have the world’s largest inventory of nuclear bombs. We are not paranoid. Complex answers and conditionalities for something easily remedied.

Can we make life simpler, please!

Indo-US Strategic Relationship

India is the long-term, single-most and credible competitor for US economic, technological and political influence in the world. US will do nothing to dilute its own position and importance. All strategic engagements of the US are with small countries like Japan, Taiwan, UK, Singapore, etc. China and Russia are seen by the US as competitors and rivals – and, while currently not seen as in the same league, India is definitely on the horizon.

Opposition by the Indian Left to this deal, springs from their belief, that the deal will bring India closer to the US, is totally off the mark. “The Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Saturday accused the government and the Congress leadership of mounting a “massive disinformation campaign” to push the nuclear deal, which “is a cover to promote strategic ties with the U.S.”

BJP is against the deal because they feel this treaty undermines Indian freedom (and sovereignty) to conduct nuclear tests. Nothing is possibly further from the truth. India can do all the tests it wants to – and come back to status quo ante – the current regime of technology and resource denial.

Intellectual vacuity is best demonstrated in this post by Gurcharan Das, an ex-MNC CEO, who started writing in various newspapers. His latest post in The Times Of India, plumbs the depth of misdirected warmth towards Western democracies. He writes, “thanks to the treaty, which paved the way for closer ties with the Western democracies. The West stood by India during its times of trouble and eventually India went on to balance power in Asia and the world”.

Gurcharan Das’ gullibility on matters of international relations is worth a bucketful of tears. Why would any country (let us keep Western powers aside for a minute) support India (or any other country) – except if it in their self interest? After 300 years of pillage, loot, murder, genocide, slavery are Western nations going to suddenly change and become Good Samaritans, Mr.Das?

Your naivete, Shrimaan Das, makes me squirm.

What is the specific US interest that the US has that India will meet!

None, that Pakistan cannot do with fewer qualms, at a lesser cost and no questions. So, why has the US dumped its old ally, Pakistan for this nuclear deal. Pakistan is not going to get the nuclear deal. So, why is the US doing this deal with India! For a Indo-US strategic relationship?

Give me something better. I am willing to wait.

Indian Reasons For The Nuclear Deal

India’s reasons for the 123 deal are fairly straight forward. The main reason for India agreeing to go for the 123 Agreement.

India’s expectation is to use thorium as an energy source in the long run. If the first phase of our programme is limited to 10,000 MW of PHWRs, the rate at which Fast Breeder Reactors can be built will be quite low. On the other hand, if the first phase programme can be augmented with LWRs of 20,000 to 30,000 MW by 2030, we shall have a strong base of Fast Breeder Reactors to be able to launch thorium utilisation in a significant way in the decades thereafter.

Bombay High, Cairn-Rajasthan, Reliance- KG Godavari, GSPC-KG Basin, ONGC-KG Basin oil fields will take care of 60%-80% of India’s oil requirements from 2010-2030. India needs better energy sources after 2030. Thorium based energy systems make sense.

Simple.

US Interests

So, what is the US interest in engaging India in the nuclear deal? I would even say, diverting India’s attention by dangling the nuclear carrot!

The US does not need any allies – especially in this part of the world. Ex-SEATO allies, (now the ASEAN), are spread all over Asia. Most Middle East rulers are allied (maybe reluctantly and some eagerly) with the US. Closer home, Pakistan brought China and US together in 1973. Pakistan also helped the US to get Russia out of Afghanistan. So, US has no need for a ‘difficult’ ally like India.

There is some speculation that the US wants to use India for reviving their “moribund nuclear industry.” But even before the first RFP for the first plant, Bush is doing everything to kill US business propects. His secret letter’ clarifies that US assurances were “political commitments” and not “legally binding.”

Excerpt from Bush’s letter to Congress: “In Article 5(6) the Agreement records certain political commitments concerning reliable supply of nuclear fuel given to India. The Agreement does not, however, transform these political commitments into legally binding commitments because the Agreement, like other US agreements of its type, is intended as a framework agreement.”

President Bush and the US industry know that they are getting nowhere close to any business with India without “legally binding commitments” on fuel supplies.

Washington Post quotes Tarun Das, of CII,

“France and Russia “come at the head of the queue for business contracts from the nuclear deal now,” Das said. “But let us not forget it is a very, very long line behind. And Americans and others are the long line behind.”

Srinivasan, former Chairman of AEC, said,

“We expect the assurances on fuel supply from the potential US reactor vendors as per the 123 Agreement (a bilateral agreement between India and US) before they enter into a contract with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).”

So, the US Nuclear industry is also not the motivation for this deal.

There! You have it. India wont buy and the US wont sell.

What Gives – Iraq, Iran, Venezuela

Cut to the US invasion of Iraq.

The justifications for invading Iraq given by the USA, were finally found to be false. The invasion was finally not related to 9/11. Iraq did not have any WMDs either. So, what was were the reasons for Iraqi invasion?

A ring side observer, former Indian Ambassador to Iraq, Ranjit Singh Kalha’s book, ‘The Ultimate Prize’ makes some interesting observations on the genesis of the Iraq invasion.

“The first mistake Saddam made was when he decided in October 2000 to move away from using US dollars as the currency for oil exports, …under the UN ‘oil-for-food’ programme.” Saddam also converted Iraq’s USD 10 billion reserve fund from US dollars to Euros. “Although this act of Saddam was not of very great economic significance in overall terms, it represented for the United States a direct challenge to the use of the dollar as a currency for transactions,” … in his just-released book, “The Ultimate Prize”. Iran followed Saddam’s move and Venezuela started initiating barter deals outside the dollar system. “If most other Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) followed the Iraqi and Iranian example, the stability of the US dollar would be at stake,” Kalha, who was posted in Baghdad during the tumultuous 1992-94 period, says.

Now sidelined to the (Indian) National Human Rights Commission, Kalha’s book has been buried under a mound of silence, not reviewed and made no impression in the popular media. The one , same press release by PTI was recycled by The Economic Times, Outlook, Sahara Samay, The Hindu, India Today, and NDTV. Google and Live Search hardly turned up anything. Yahoo.co.in showed some of these links. Iraq was finally not related to 9/11 and did not have any WMDs. So, what was were the reasons for Iraqi invasion?

The Dollar Hegemony

After Iraq, Venezuela and Iran have also moved away from designating oil sales in US dollars. After the Bretton Woods collapse, instead of gold, it was oil that anchored the US currency. West Asian Oil producers agreed to denominate oil in dollars after the Nixon Chop – and in turn there was no real resistance by the West to OPEC oil cartel increase oil prices by a factor of 10. Western Oil companies also acted in concert with OPEC by limiting their own oil production. From around 4 dollars a barrel to US$40. The West was relatively unscathed – as these petro-dollars were re-invested back in the West.

India was also not highly impacted as Bombay High started production in 1974. It was the rest of the Third World which paid this bill. As Ron Paul noted, “The agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in dollars has provided tremendous artificial strength to the dollar as the preeminent reserve currency. This has created a universal demand for the dollar, and soaks up the huge number of new dollars generated each year.”

Another post which made waves was posted in currencytrading.net – which highlighted how some countries were possibly moving away from the dollar peg or /and diversifying dollar reserves.

“…seven countries currently considering a move from the dollar” Saudi Arabia refused to cut interest rates along with the US Federal Reserve … a break from the dollar currency peg … South Korea announced its intention to shift its investments … There are whispers that the Bank of Korea is planning on selling $1 billion US bonds in the near future, after a $100 million sale … After abandoning the dollar peg in 2005, … China is threatening a “nuclear option” of huge dollar liquidation … although China “doesn’t want any undesirable phenomenon in the global financial order,” … As … noted in the past, China has the power to take the wind out of the dollar.

Venezuela … choosing to establish barter deals for oil … under Hugo Chavez, … to trade oil with 12 Latin American countries and Cuba without … the dollar … In 2000, Chavez recommended to OPEC that they “take advantage of high-tech electronic barter and bi-lateral exchanges of its oil with its developing country customers,” … In September, Chavez instructed Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA to change its dollar investments to euros and other currencies …

Sudan is … planning to convert its dollar holdings to the euro and other currencies. … Officially, the (US) sanctions are reported to have little effect, but there are indications that the economy is suffering due to these restrictions. … a Khartoum committee recently concluded that proposals … are “not feasible.” …it is clear that Sudan’s intent is to attempt a break from the dollar in the future.

… the most likely candidate for … abandonment of the dollar…Iran requested that … shipments to Japan be traded for yen … has plans in the works to create an open commodity exchange called the Iran Oil Bourse. … possible to trade oil and gas in non-dollar currencies, … the oil bourse has missed at least three of its announced opening dates, … make clear Iran’s intentions for the dollar. As of October 2007, Iran receives non-dollar currencies for 85% of its oil exports … has plans to move the remaining 15% to currencies like the United Arab Emirates dirham.

2006, Russian President Vladmir Putin expressed interest in … a Russian stock exchange … allow “oil, gas, and other goods to be paid for in Roubles.” … wary of holding too many dollar reserves. In 2004, Russian central bank First Deputy Chairmain Alexei Ulyukayev remarked, “Most of our reserves are in dollars, and that’s a cause for concern.” … considering the dollar’s rate against the euro, … “discussing the possibility of changing the reserve structure.” … 2005, Russia put an end to its dollar peg … towards a euro alignment. They’ve discussed pricing oil in euros, … a large shift away from the dollar and towards the euro, … (by the) world’s second-largest oil exporter.

The dollar’s status as a cheaply-produced US export is a vital part of our (US) economy. Losing this status could rock the financial lives of both Americans and the worldwide economy.

The game is afoot. We are onto something here.

The Iran Bourse

So, that is the real reason. Maintaining US Dollar hegemony – which Iran wants to wreck. As a large oil exporter, Iran can start the beginning of the end.

Soon after the Dubya-Manu Nuclear Deal announcement, India voted against Iran at the IAEA Meet. Iran was always of strategic importance to India – as a counterweight to the China-Pakistan axis. India has given up on Iran for (in MJ Akbar’s words) a more unclear than nuclear deal.

Interestingly, the CPI(M) website, People’s Democracy, on March 2005, posted an exhaustive write up on the US dollar and its effect on the world economy. Surprising that they did not connect the dots – or is that they are part of the Manubhai and Co.? Have decided that the Indian people do not deserve the truth?

For the Iran Bourse to take off, Iran can go to two countries in the world – US or India. Not even Europe. (Europe’s main interest is to increase acceptance of the Euro. The danger is that US and EU could form a duopoly and revert to ‘rent-seeking’ behaviour).

The Iran Bourse has one choice – for the hardware, software, systems, procedures, regulatory experience. For proof, look at the MCX, a privately developed, owned, funded, managed, commodity exchange – a first in the world. India is opening up electronic markets at the drop of a hat. India’s home-grown regulatory systems are today world class.

All the above seven countries mentioned in the report above have thin democracies or not at all. The regulatory systems in these seven countries are primitive and arbitrary. A body of professional market participants these countries don’t have. The central banks in these countries are adjuncts of a temporary political leadership. Hence, any kind of administrative predictability or reliability is chimerical.

Who Can You Trust

The US needs to maintain the US Dollar hegemony – as that gives it an advantage of 20 trillion dollars of interest free, irredeemable debt! This US need, for India to be out of this alternate currency system scenario – is what is driving this nuclear deal.

How far, how much would how many countries (rich or poor) in the world trust these seven countries (Saudi Arabia, South Korea, China, Venezuela, Sudan, Iran and Russia) with the future currency system of the world?

Practically none!

For these proposals of an alternate currency bloc to come close to realization, the presence of India (and South Africa) is an essential. India’s other qualification is the 25,000 tonnes of private gold reserves. Iran has not helped its cause when it tried re-negotiating the gas supply agreement with India.

As usual, no one in India is even remotely talking about this issue. And that is the tragedy of Indian economists.

Post Script

But I may be completely off the mark. The Indian Government may be marching to the beat of a different drummer altogether.

India on 27th August, 2008, concluded an agreement with ASEAN for goods now – and more later. Is this a first step from both sides to have a comprehensive third currency bloc? There may be merit in being prepared, being safer rather than being sorry – and failures, like many other attempts have been.

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