Zoltan Pozsar Warns Russian Sanctions Threaten Dollar’s Reserve Status

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. dollar banknote is seen in this picture illustration taken May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Assessment: To be sure, Russia has long been aware of the potential risk involved in holding dollars as reserves, and since the annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia’s central bank had steadily divested its reserves of most U.S. dollar assets …

Over the weekend, the world gasped in shock when Western powers announced that the nuclear option would be used against Russia in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine – sanctions against the country’s central bank and targeted expulsions of key banks from SWIFT, a move which has effectively locked Russia out of the western financial system and left its vast oil export industry – a key lifeline for the Putin regime – in limbo.

But the real reason for the shock is that this was the first time the global reserve currency was weaponized against a G20 economy, setting a clear precedent for how the west would and could respond to any other nation that followed in Russia’s footsteps (something which China is clearly contemplating vis-a-vis Taiwan, and is carefully studying just how the west responds to Moscow).

 

“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A [a]quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” Rev. 13:16-17

As a result, and following this week’s dramatic freeze of the Russian central bank overseas assets, has prompted some to question just why countries build foreign currency reserves at all and, more broadly, whether the unprecedented western response to Russia hasn’t jeopardized the dollar’s reserve status.

In what one Washington lawyer described to Reuters as the “biggest hammer in the toolshed”, the G7 and European Union governments blocked certain Russian banks’ access to the SWIFT international payment system and also went a step further than many expected by paralyzing about half the Russian central bank’s $630 billion worth of foreign currency and gold reserves. In doing so, the west has undermined Moscow’s ability to defend the ruble – which has lost up to a quarter of its value since Friday alone – and recapitalize sanctioned banks as they face nascent bank runs. In fact, as some admitted, it was the explicit intention of the west to spark bank runs and to crash the Russian financial system from within.

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