Is de-dollarization coming? The answer depends on whether you’re in Jackson Hole or Johannesburg this week

Good morning, Peter Vanham here in Geneva.

What will be the world’s future reserve currency?

That question is more relevant than it has been in years due to inflation and high interest rates in the U.S. and Europe, the crash of digital currencies, and the depreciation of emerging market currencies from the renminbi to the rupee. But depending on whether you’re in Jackson Hole or Johannesburg this week (or on one of our podcasts), the answer might be very different.

Over in the Rocky Mountains, the yearly Jackson Hole symposium mostly welcomes those rooting for the greenback: Western central bankers. At the heart of their discussions lies the question of whether “higher-for-longer” interest rates are the right strategy to protect their currencies, or whether it’s time to pause, or even reverse course, given the risk of a recession. The likelihood of the dollar staying the world’s reserve currency will depend on getting that balance right.

On the other hand, participants at the annual BRICS summit in Johannesburg have a different outlook. The BRICS summit gathers the leaders of the world’s leading “emerging markets,” including South Africa, China, India, Brazil, and Russia (although Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending). And the leader of the bloc’s international development bank, Dilma Roussef, left no doubt about their intentions: They want to reduce their reliance on the dollar–and introduce BRICS currencies for international payments and loans.

Amid this geoeconomic bickering, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of cryptocurrency firm Circle, sees a third way. “There’s been this dollar hegemony, but that’s very much under threat right now,” particularly from China, he said on our latest Leadership Next podcast, out this week. But according to Allaire, the future isn’t so much with the physical greenback or yuan. “The competition over money is becoming a technological competition,” he said.

Allaire believes the future lies in so-called stablecoins that track the value of existing currencies, in which his company specializes. He says the challenge for the U.S. is to “establish a federal regulatory regime for…digital dollars, that are provided by private companies.” The end game, he says, is that “everyone in the world, who uses one of these [stablecoins], understands what these are, that they can be treated like the equivalent of cash in the balance sheet.”


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