by Turd Ferguson, TF Metals Report:
The story begins in the 1970s when Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon struck a deal with the House of Saud — a deal which gave birth to the petrodollar system.
The terms were simple The Saudis agreed to ONLY accept U.S. Dollars in return for their oil and that they would reinvest their surplus dollars into U.S. treasuries.
In return, the U.S. would provide arms and a security guarantee to the Saudis who, it has to be said, were living in a pretty rough neighbourhood. As you can see, things went swimmingly (chart below)
Saudi purchases of treasuries grew along with the oil price and everyone was happy. (We’ll come back to that blue box on the right shortly)
The inverse correlation between the dollar and crude is just about as perfect as one could expect (until recently that is… but again, we’ll be back to that).
And, as you can see here, beginning when Nixon slammed the gold window shut on French fingers and picking up speed once the petrodollar system was ensconced, foreign buyers of U.S. debt grew exponentially.
Having the world’s most vital commodity exclusively priced in U.S. dollars meant everybody needed to hold large dollar reserves to pay for it and that meant a yuuuge bid for treasuries. It’s good to be the king.
By 2015, as the chart on the next page shows quite clearly, there were treasuries to the value of around 6 years of total global oil supply in the hands of foreigners (if we assume a constant 97 million bpd supply which I think is a pretty reasonable estimate).
Now… with that brief background on the petrodollar system, here’s where I need you to stick with me. I promise you it’ll be worth the mental effort
Ready? Here we go.
Now, back in 2010, then-World Bank President Robert Zoellick caused something of a commotion when he suggested that an entirely new global monetary system maybe wasn’t such a bad idea.
The system he had in mind involved a freely-convertible Yuan and, controversially was constructed around gold as its central reference point:
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