For more than seventy years, the United States dollar has been the reserve currency for the globe. After World War II until quite recently, more than 70% of all foreign exchange transactions and 40% of all world exports have been denominated in dollars. The U.S. dollar will remain the world’s reserve currency as long as OPEC continues to sell crude oil in dollars.
Today, the dollar is worth only a tiny fraction of what it was worth when the currency was backed by gold. The dollar’s loss of value since 1971 can be measured by gold:
1971: $1 = 1/35th of a 1 oz gold coin
2017: $1 = 1/1,320th of a 1 oz gold coin
Dollar debasement has defrauded U.S. creditors and individual Americans. Yet, the dollar has maintained global supremacy because of its oil backing. The petro-dollar system forces nations to hold enormous dollar reserves in order to buy oil from OPEC. Although most OPEC oil is still transacted in dollars, dozens of oil-producing countries have attempted to replace the dollar with gold and other currencies. Dollar dominance has depended on the U.S. military to defend the status of the “petro” [petroleum] dollar.
P ET R O- D O L L A R H I S T O R Y
Fifty years ago, the United States made a bargain with OPEC [the Organization of Petroleum-Exporting Countries]. OPEC agreed to peg the price of oil to the U.S. dollar. And, in exchange for U.S. protection, the oil cartel agreed to trade its share of the world’s oil supply only in dollars. The landmark agreement gave birth to the “petro-dollar.”
When the bargain was made, the paper dollar was “gold-backed” (100% convertible to gold). The United States was essentially exchanging gold for oil. Under the original contract, OPEC nations could exchange their oil export dollars for U.S. gold at $35 per Troy oz.
The U.S. broke the oil-price contract with OPEC. President Nixon reneged on the long-standing agreement by refusing to exchange U.S. gold for OPEC oil dollars. The President severed the tie between the dollar and gold on August 15, 1971. (Under-Secretary of the Treasury Paul Volcker was the principal planner in the decision to suspend gold convertibility.)
Prior to the decision to suspend gold convertibility, all U.S. government creditors could exchange U.S. dollars for U.S. gold [from 1792 until 1971]. Leading up to that pivotal year, the Federal Reserve had created massive credit to finance the Vietnam War, Medicare, Medicaid, and multiple Great Society programs. In response to the reckless money-printing, the watching world had rushed in alarm to convert paper dollars to U.S. gold.
President Nixon closed the “gold window” after European central banks exchanged their dollar reserves for more than 17,000 metric tons of U.S. gold — more than 571,428,571 Troy ounces of physical gold. Nixon’s “temporary measure” to stop the gold hemorrhage became permanent.
After the dollar was permanently de-linked from gold, members of the OPEC cartel grudgingly continued to trade oil exclusively in dollars. Despite the debasement of the currency since 1971, the dollar has retained its status as the global monetary reserve because –in effect– it is backed by oil. American foreign policy is dedicated to making sure OPEC oil producers keep their original bargain.
“DOLLARS ONLY” STRICTLY ENFORCED
In 2000, Saddam Hussein nearly caused a run on the dollar by demanding Euro for Iraqi oil. The decision to reject the dollar and trade the third largest supply of OPEC oil in Euro was not tolerated.
Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Paul O’Neill, said the main topic of President G. W. Bush’s first Cabinet meeting was how to find a way for a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. Regime change was topic ‘A’ only ten days after Bush’s inauguration [Jan. 20, 2001]. Secretary O’Neill said the main topic of the second Cabinet meeting was the future occupation of Iraq.
O’Neill was fired for his widely-reported revelations: Eight months before September 11th, 2001 [9-11], President Bush and his Cabinet discussed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Iraq abandoned the Euro, and resumed trading crude oil in U.S. dollars two months after the 2003 invasion.
From 2000 until the middle of 2014, the dollar was
down 62% against the Euro [from 82¢ to $1.33].
More than twenty African nations produce crude oil; a larger number of countries have proven oil reserves and/or proven natural gas reserves. Libyan oil reserves are the largest in Africa. In 2011, the head of Libya officially rejected both the dollar and the Euro, and demanded gold payment for oil. The rest is history. The decision to require gold for oil was not tolerated [US/NATO invasion March 19, 2011].
AFRICAN MONETARY UNIFICATION
Prior to the 2011 invasion, Libya’s Qadhafi had conceived and financed a plan for African economic independence. After years of discussion, the heads of fifty-three countries agreed to unify their sovereign nations with one gold currency. In 2004, the pan-African Parliament laid plans for the African Economic Community and a single gold currency by 2023. Qadhafi was the Chairman of the African Union in 2009. Members chose the Libyan dinar to become the gold currency for the continent and the only possible money to buy African oil.
Energy-exporting countries do not accept the falling value of the dollar. Before the 2011 international invasion of Libya, the following oil/ gas-producing nations (including OPEC member-states Libya, Angola, Nigeria, and Algeria) were planning to replace the petro-dollar with gold currency:
Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tunisia, Gabon, Uganda, Chad, Suriname, Cameroon, Mauritania, Morocco, Zambia, Somalia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Libya, Angola, Nigeria, and Algeria.
Four billion people in the Eastern Hemisphere believe gold is real money. Members of OPEC measure the dollar’s loss of purchasing power by gold. From 2000 until the middle of 2014, the dollar was down 470% against gold:
“The fall in the value of the dollar is one of the biggest problems facing the world today. The damage caused by this has already affected the global economy, particularly those of the energy-exporting countries…Therefore, I repeat my earlier suggestion, that a combination of the world’s valid currencies should become a basis for oil transactions, or (OPEC) member countries should determine a new currency for oil transactions.” [Iranian President Ahmadinejad to the OPEC Council of Ministries, June 17, 2008; via John C. K. Daly, OilPrice.com, July 18, 2011]
The petro-dollar is a key to understanding American foreign policy. The U.S. will not tolerate “rogue” nations making non-dollar deals.
- Syria is a member of OPEC. In 2007, the Commercial Bank of Syria switched the country’s transactions from dollars to Euro. Western economic sanctions (coordinated among sixty nations) are targeting Syria’s central bank, oil exports, and the country’s 25.8 metric tonnes of gold. On Feb. 27, 2012, Reuters reported: The EU increased sanctions to prohibit and target countries that trade gold or other precious metals with Syria. (It is now illegal for any country to trade gold with Damascus. Syria was forced to sell gold reserves at a big discount.)
- Venezuela has the world’s largest oil supply; the late President was a founding member of OPEC. On March 17, 2008, Venezuelan state oil giant PDVSA signed oil contracts in Euro “in the face of a plummeting dollar.”
- Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa [BRICS] signed an agreement on April 2011 to use their own currencies rather than dollars when issuing credit to each other.
- Russia’s Prime Minister Putin and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao met in Saint Petersburg on Nov. 2010. They agreed to use their own currencies rather than dollars in bilateral trades.
- Japan and China are phasing out of dollars in their bilateral trades.
- China has non-dollar oil deals with Angola, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria, and Iran.
- Iran has the world’s fourth largest oil supply, the world’s second largest natural gas reserves, and was OPEC’s #2 producer in 2012. The country’s foreign currency reserves have been held in Euro since 2009.
On August 19, 2011, Iran’s new Kish Bourse began trading crude oil and gas in gold, Euro, and the dirham [pegged to SDR] in exclusion of the dollar. Iran replaced the dollar in oil trade with India, Turkey, Japan, China, Russia.
The West tightened economic sanctions, targeting the Central Bank of Iran: “The U.S. and EU measures targeted oil export revenues… prohibited large-scale investment in the country’s oil and gas sector, and cut off Iran’s access to European and U.S. sources of financial transactions. Further sanctions… targeted the Central Bank of Iran.” [U.S. Energy Information Administration] On April 18, 2012, Reuters reported Iran’s foreign exchange reserves were down 50%, oil revenues were down 30%, and Iran dropped from OPEC’s #2 oil producer to #5.
Since July 2013, U.S. law has forbidden selling gold to the citizens or the government of Iran. If Iran’s Kish Bourse continues to trade oil and gas for gold and other currencies, European countries will not have to hold dollars to buy oil. If OPEC were to trade oil in gold or yuan, countries such as India, Korea, China, Russia, Taiwan, Brazil, and Japan could lower dollar reserves and eventually convert out of dollars. If the dollar lost dominance, the U.S would not be able to cover trade deficits with money-printing.
RECENT NON-DOLLAR DEALS
- A Memorandum was signed [March 2013] for bilateral trade in Chinese yuan/ Russian ruble: Gazprom (Russian gas export monopoly) and Chinese National Petroleum Corp [CNPC] began the Altai natural gas pipeline project [Oct. 2009] to open Asia to Russia via the ‘Power of Siberia’ route to western China.
- On April 2, 2014, Reuters reported a $20 billion barter for oil deal between Russia and Iran.
- Russia signed agreements [June 7, 2014] with 90% of Gazprom Neft customers to switch from dollars to Euro/ Chinese yuan.
- United Kingdom: China’s Foreign Exchange Trade System announced [June 19, 2014] a bilateral agreement between the U.K. and China for direct Chinese yuan—British pound trade, with no dollar intermediary.
- Shanghai, May 21, 2014: Putin and Zi Jinping signed a $400 billion, 30-year gas contract between Gazprom and CNPC [Chinese National Petroleum Corp]. The non-dollar deal of the decade will supply ¼ of Chinese demand.
How much longer will the dollar remain the primary basis of global trade? In 1988, the “Economist’ said we can expect a new world currency “around 2018 ” [The Economist, vol.306, pp.9-10; 1/9/1988].*
NEW MONETARY ORDER
The current petro-dollar system is reaching the end of its usefulness. Today, the price of crude oil is pegged to the U.S. dollar. But discussions are underway to replace the petro-dollar with a new super-currency [super-sovereign currency] that will include gold in a significant way.* China, Russia, and others are now aggressively adding gold to their foreign exchange reserves (China is draining about ¾ of annual world production).
Since the worldwide credit-collapse in 2007, China has been implementing a strategy to return the pricing of oil back to gold. But China’s move away from the dollar has not taken the Federal Reserve by surprise. When Timothy Geithner was U.S. Treasury Secretary, the former head of the New York Federal Reserve bank seemed very much in favor of replacing the dollar with a super-sovereign reserve currency.** On March 25, 2009, Secretary Geithner told China’s central bank governor he was “quite open to the concept proposed by China.”
With every passing day, a change in the international monetary system seems more likely. If a ‘re-set’ is coming, large gold holdings would lend credibility to those nations that wish to play a large role in the next global currency system. Based on China’s acquisition of gold since the 2007 crash, the future role of gold may have already been determined.
By Denise Rhyne
* SINGLE ELECTRONIC CURRENCY • GLOBAL GOLD STANDARD. In February 2012, the RIIA [Royal Institute of International Affairs] reported the door is opening “for gold to play a more deliberately managed role supplementing the US dollar in the international monetary system.” It seems the new monetary order will include a ‘modified’ global gold standard to guide currancy rates. In Nov. 2010, Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank, suggested the new system will employ gold as a reference-point. Based on the evidence, internationalists are planning to eventually replace the dollar-reserve system with a single, purely electronic currency; they are now laying the groundwork for “a single global digital economy” [Aspen Institute 2012 IDEA Project].
SUPER-SOVEREIGN RESERVE CURRENCY. The new monetary order was endorsed by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in Nov. 2010 [implementation of the U.N. Basel III framework is part of Geithner’s “evolution to global monetary union”].
US-NATO-UN-EU ‘Peace’ Missions: RWANDA: huge natural gas reserves; LIBYA: largest oil reserves in Africa; IRAQ: #2 OPEC oil-producer; WESTERN SUDAN/ DARFUR: major oil source; EAST AFRICA/ SOMALIA: the new Middle East.
Military “interventions” by the “US-NATO-UN-EU Alliance” are advertised as peace missions “to manage conflicts” and “protect civilians.” On Nov.26, 2012, Defense Secretary Panetta announced expanded drone warfare in Africa. On Dec. 24th, 2012, the Pentagon deployed “military teams” to thirty-five African nations.
FOR THE RECORD: Hundreds of tons of gold were seized after the invasions of Iraq and Libya. In 2011, Libya alone owned 143.8 tons of gold. There is no account of the bullion captured from the two countries [Iraqi gold pallet below]. Since the bombing of Libya, not one national “hard” [gold-backed] currency exists anywhere in the world. (Libya’s national currency was a hard currency.) For the first time in all history, gold and silver coins/ bars are the only alternatives to ‘fiat’ money [currency backed by nothing].
GOLD SHORTAGE IN THE WEST: In 2011, Hugo Chavez’s demand for the return of Venezuela’s gold [17,000 400 oz gold bars] caused a worldwide RUN on precious metals. Since then, Goldman Sachs/ Citigroup have been negotiating with cash-strapped Venezuela to ‘claw back’ the nation’s gold hoard [about 1/5th of the gold was sold/ leased in 2015]. As of April 2017, Maduro has sold/ leased the entire amount of gold Chavez had repatriated to Venezuela.