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22 Jul, 2009 09:42

Bretton Woods anniversary brings focus back to waning dollar outlook

65 years ago the dollar became the world’s de facto reserve currency at the Bretton Woods conference in New Hampshire. On the anniversary, uncertainty about the Dollar’s capacity to continue in the role is increasing.

At the latest G-8 summit in Italy, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, demonstrated an example a new supranational coin called the United Future World Currency which is one possible dollar killer.

President Sarkozy of France in turn suggested “a politically multi-polar world should be an economically multi-currency world” with other countries from China to India talking of diversifing away from the dollar. And Sergey Khestanov, Managing Director at Finam Management, blames the dominance of one nation’s money for the current financial crisis

“America kept printing dollars, the economy grew, but nothing was happening to inflation, as a large part of this money was diffused around the globe. This has led to excessive debt and we’ve got what we’ve got.”

While the currencies of other nations are backed by their foreign exchange reserves, the Dollar is the only one not secured against anything except the promise to print more money. Some experts say the world should come back to the gold standard or some other tangible reserve such as oil, gas or even a kilowatt of power. However, Elina Rybakova, Chief Economist at Citigroup, Russia & CIS, says there is no need for measures from another age.

“I may trust Bernanke or our government just based on their track record in the recent past and their education, which is their background and their credibility, their knowledge. And I will not necessarily need them to show me that piece of gold that they keep in their reserves, are fully backed. Don’t believe in this idea that we need to come back to the sort of tangible backing, I believe in idea of establishing credibility of Central Banks – that they would deliver a positive interest rates and they will be successful inflation targeters.”

It took the Dollar about 40 years to defeat the British Pound as the leading reserve currency. Nowadays, analysts say a possible new player may dump the Dollar much sooner.