Despite facing serious long-term challenges to its status, the U.S. dollar is in no imminent danger of being replaced as the world’s reserve currency, according to a speaker at the Denver Gold Forum.
“There are some very grim facts out there about the dollar at home. There are also signs of serious opposition to the dollar abroad,” Walter Russell Mead said Tuesday at the annual industry conference for mining executives, analysts and brokers.
Mead is a foreign affairs and humanities professor at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and editor-at-large of The American Interest, a magazine that focuses on foreign policy, international affairs and global economics.
The domestic threats to the dollar include loose monetary policy and financial deficits, while foreign risks include recent talks between China and Russia about replacing the dollar in bilateral trade, Meade said.
But Mead also told the audience of over 1,000 that people have been predicting the demise of America and the dollar since Russia appeared poised to win the space race with the launch of Sputnik in 1957.
For the foreseeable future, Mead believes “the international currency will be green, not red”—a reference to the respective colors of U.S. and Chinese paper currencies.
The dollar has declined over the last few decades against other assets, including precious metals and foreign currencies, he noted. However, those who erroneously forecast its collapse failed to recognize the strength of America’s economy, and therefore the attractiveness of the dollar, Mead said.
As a recent example, America emerged faster and in somewhat better shape from the 2008 financial crisis than Europe and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), he said. The U.S. is in relatively good shape for several reasons, including its large reserves of fertile land and fresh water, newly discovered shale oil and natural gas deposits, and the absence of hostile foreign neighbors on its borders, he said.
The country also benefits from a culture that encourages entrepreneurship. Despite all its problems, America remains on the cutting edge of innovation, especially in computing and information technology, he said.
By contrast, Europe has less opportunity for economic growth, in part because many of its natural resources have already been exploited. Meanwhile, China is facing serious social problems and declining wages, as manufacturing becomes commoditized, he said.