After Jerome Powell’s neutral-to-slightly-dovish-but-mostly-boring speech on Friday morning, investors could be forgiven for suspecting that this year’s Fed-sponsored gathering in Jackson Hole might be disappointingly dull (especially with all that’s going on in Trump’s twitter feed, the escalating trade war and escalating geopolitical unrest).
Then along came former Goldman banker and current (outgoing) BOE governor, Mark Carney, who in his lunchtime address laid out a shocking, radical proposal – perhaps the most stunning thing to ever be unveiled at Jackson Hole – urging to replace the US Dollar with a “Libra-like” reserve currency in a dramatic revamp of the global monetary, financial and economic order.
While it was unclear if Carney was focusing on Libra as the new reserve currency, or simply was hoping to find something against which the dollar could be devalued, the proposal was clearly shocking as it suggests that the central bank quiet acceptance of cryptocurrencies (especially in Japan) has been what many have speculated all along: a “currency” against which fiat money can be devalued in hopes of sparking fiat hyperinflation that inflates away record amounts of fiat debt.
Of course, such a new system would bring about the end of US hegemony, and effectively end the dollar-based global financial system, dramatically scaling back the US’s influence in the global economy, and making rising powers like China and Russia critical players an increasingly multipolar world…. especially if they propose a gold-backed dollar alternative to the world. That this would quickly emerge as the new reserve currency – together with whatever stablecoin/crypto central bankers deign to be the dollar’s replacement – goes without saying.
Carney’s proposal comes just a few months before he’s due to step down from his position leading the Bank of England.
We note that, because it is a well known fact that central bankers tend to speak the truth once they have quit their position of power and influence. Yet it is quite shocking for Carnery to do so while still in office; the bottom line, Carney sounded like nothing less than an Austrian-school economist, who admits that the existing neo-liberal/Keynesian system has collapsed.
Speaking to fellow policy makers and academics at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, he said that in the short term central bankers must deal with the situation as it is. But he also warned that “blithe acceptance of the status quo is misguided,” and dramatic steps will ultimately be needed. It’s what he said next that was stunning:
“In the longer term, we need to change the game,” Carney said. “When change comes, it shouldn’t be to swap one currency hegemon for another.”
This is where, if Carney indeed speaks for his central banking peers, one can say “game over” for the fiat system, which now even establishment members admit will need to devalue against something outside of the fiat system, such as Gold (as Pimco’s Harley Bassman suggested back in 2016), or cryptocurrency/stable coins, like Libra.
There has hardly been a more appropriate time for such a proposal. Trade wars and now the threat of currency wars are upending multilateral cooperation. Central bankers are trapped in a low interest-rate world, and the threat of Modern Monetary Theory has reared its ugly head. Yet, the establishment has so far been unable to come up with its own alternative to combat MMT.
“The combination of heightened economic policy uncertainty, outright protectionism and concerns that further, negative shocks could not be adequately offset because of limited policy space is exacerbating the disinflationary bias in the global economy,” Carney said. “What then must be done?”
Well, the creation of a virtual non-fiat currency, against which all other central-bank backed fiat currencies could be devalued, is certainly one solution.