The rumours of the dollar’s death are much exaggerated

It is the season of dollar panic. These panic-mongers are varied: gold bugs, fiscal hawks and many others agree that the dollar, the dominant currency since the first world war, is on its death bed. Hyperinflationary collapse is in store. Does this make sense? No. All the same, the dollar-based global monetary system is defective. It would be good to start building alternative arrangements.

We should start with what is not happening. In the recent panic, the children ran to their mother even though her mistakes did so much to cause the crisis. The dollar’s value rose. As confidence has returned, this has reversed. The dollar jumped 20 per cent between July 2008 and March of this year. Since then it has lost much of its gains. Thus, the dollar’s fall is a symptom of success, not of failure.

Can we find deeper signs that the world is abandoning the US currency? One beloved indicator is the price of gold, which has risen four-fold since the early 2000s (see chart). But its price is a dubious indicator of inflation risks: its previous peak was in January 1980, just before inflation was crushed.

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