The US dollar is on the verge of a 35% collapse. It could also lose its status as the world’s reserve currency. This is according to Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University and the former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.
The reason, according to Roach, is the slow decoupling of the US from its trade partners. Along with this, another reason is the rise of China. He says China’s structural reform goes away from a manufacturing economy. Instead, it comes into a more service-oriented economy with a stronger consumer base. This could mean the days of the US dollar being the world’s reserve currency are numbered.
Merely suggesting that the US losing its reserve currency status is enough to bring out the critics. In an opinion piece he wrote for Bloomberg, Roach addresses those critics.
“Scorn has long been heaped on those daring to question the supremacy of the U.S. dollar,” he starts. “As the world’s dominant reserve currency…the counter-arguments were strong and highly political, basically boiling down to the so-called TINA defense – that when it comes to the dollar, ‘there is no alternative.'”
The Role of The Dollar
Roach says that even those that believe there is no alternative to the US dollar when it comes to international trade. The same goes for when the financial markets are being shortsighted.
“Alas, the TINA argument doesn’t stop there. The counter to my case for dollar weakness also rests on the reserve status of the U.S. currency as the linchpin of world financial markets. All trading nations, goes the argument, have to hold the dollar as the price for doing business in an increasingly integrated dollar-based world economy.
“Even so, the dollar’s share of official foreign-exchange reserves has declined from a little over 70% in 2000 to a little less than 60% today, according to the Bank for International Settlements. That downtrend could gather momentum in the years ahead, especially with the U.S. currently leading the charge in de-globalization and decoupling. With America’s share of reserves well in excess of its share in world GDP and trade, such a correction might well be inevitable in an increasingly fragmented, multi-polar world.”
The natural instinct for a weak dollar is to buy hard assets like gold. However, Roach says those markets are simply too small. They will not be able to absorb the tsunami of dollars looking for a new home.
“And although cryptocurrencies and gold should benefit from dollar weakness, these markets are too small to absorb major adjustments in world foreign-exchange markets where daily turnover runs around $6.6 trillion.”
Gold and cryptocurrencies are too small to benefit. Although, Roach says he does expect two currencies to strengthen as the dollar weakens: the Chinese renminbi and the euro.
Can It Be Replaced?
“On this basis, a forecast of a weaker dollar requires some combination of a strengthening in China’s renminbi and the euro…
“The China call is very contentious. From the trade war to the coronavirus war to the distinct possibility of a new Cold War, the negative case for China has never been stronger in the U.S. than it is today.”
“The call on the euro is also counterintuitive, especially for a broad consensus of congenital euro-skeptics like me… I now have to concede that reports of the euro’s imminent death have been greatly exaggerated. Time and again, especially over the past 10 years, Europe has risen to the occasion and avoided a catastrophic collapse of its seemingly dysfunctional currency union. From Mario Draghi’s 2012 promise to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro from a sovereign debt crisis to the recent Angela Merkel-Emmanuel Macron commitment to a Next Generation European Union Fund of 750 billion euros ($855 billion) to address the coronavirus crisis, the great European experiment has endured extraordinary adversity… there is unmistakable upside for the most unloved currency in the world.”
Roach ends his article by pointing out that no country has ever devalued its currency and enjoyed prolonged prosperity.
“If TINA is the dollar’s only hope, look out below… Yes, a weaker dollar would boost U.S. competitiveness, but only for a while. Notwithstanding the hubris of American exceptionalism, no leading nation has ever devalued its way to sustained prosperity.”
JPMorgan Faces Nearly $1 Billion Fine For Manipulating Gold Prices
JPMorgan recently admitted to its role in the manipulation of both the Treasury and precious metals markets. The company did so using a tactic called “spoofing.”
Will Rhind, the CEO of GraniteShares, recently gave an interview where he discussed how JPMorgan manipulated the market. He also mentioned that their illegal actions affected precious metals prices.
Grumblings Present for Years
Rhind said he never had direct knowledge of the manipulation but had been hearing grumblings about it for years. He says anyone who made the accusations was dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist.”
“This is really quite extraordinary because throughout my career there have always been these mutterings of manipulation of the gold market. And a lot of the people who were talking about that were really written off as being fringe or conspiracy theorists, an extreme view. And those people have been right.”
He added. “It’s not as if people haven’t been talking about this or indeed making allegations, and indeed at one point, I think several times, there were allegations made to the CFTC, to regulators, regulators did have a look but nothing was found in terms of the findings.”
Rhind said the extraordinary aspect was that it wasn’t a small “boiler room” company that got caught. Actually, it was one of the largest banks in the world.
He described it as an “extraordinary situation,” considering what happened. It’s a scenario “where one of the largest banks in the world had to pay a monumental fine. I think it’s the largest fine that’s ever been paid for spoofing – market manipulation – in this particular order and really sets a massive precedent.”
JPMorgan Isn’t The Only One
While JPMorgan is the one paying a nearly $1 billion fine, Rhind said they weren’t the only bad actors.
“Some of the emails, the chats have been made public now. (They’re) extraordinary and show the depth of this, not just one bank, but multiple banks and traders coordinating to manipulate prices.”
JPMorgan is accused of “spoofing” or manipulating the price of gold by putting in massive orders. Then, they quickly pulled the orders before they are executed. Rhind said even though the orders weren’t real, they still had a “cause and effect” on the markets.
“In this particular context this is about spoofing. And spoofing is a word for when you put in a fake order, essentially is what it is. So you put in an order in the market to buy or sell, but you withdraw that order before it is executed. So that obviously (has a) cause and effect if you put in an order and it’s a sizeable one that can have other consequences in terms of other orders that then move the price of that particular.”
He says it’s impossible to say how the spoofing affected the precious metals markets.
“As far as how much that has actually affected the price on a day-to-day basis, I think that’s very, very difficult to determine. So I think the minutiae of it is almost going to be impossible to determine. But I think it’s more the fact that this was happening, that people knew or suspected that it was happening,” he adds it’s really been made public.
Report: Major Banks Laundering Trillions of Dollars For Terrorists and Drug Kingpins
A bombshell report about major western banks like JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank was released yesterday. It said that these banks allowed “trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins.”
That’s according to an investigation by BuzzFeed News, who spent more than a year compiling the FinCEN Files. They say the documents were compiled by the banks themselves and actually shared with the government. However, they mentioned that this fact was kept away from the public.
Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator for Wachovia Bank (acquired by Wells Fargo in 2008) said, “Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world.”
Incredibly, the report says a bank is immunized from prosecution. It can also continue the transaction and collect all fees. This may happen as long as a bank flags a transaction as suspicious.
“So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.”
Banks Continue Processing Suspicious Transactions
The investigation also found that many banks continued to move money for suspected criminals. This came even after authorities prosecuted or gave banks a fine for financial misconduct.
For example, Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, American Express, and others processed millions of dollars in transactions for the family of Viktor Khrapunov, the former mayor of Kazakhstan’s most populous city. The transactions went on even after Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest.
Incredibly, the report reveals that “major financial institutions often fail to perform the most basic checks on their customers, such as verifying where a business is located when someone opens a new account. The lapses allow criminal groups to hide behind shell corporations, registered with no identifying details about their ownership, and slide the proceeds of their crimes into the global financial system.”
JPMorgan Chase allegedly collected more than $500 million in fees from Bernie Madoff while he was running his ponzi scheme. With this, the company only paid a $1.7 billion fine. The company was also supposed to improve its ability to detect money laundering. Instead, the FinCEN Files show the bank’s own investigators believed it opened accounts for “an alleged Russian organized crime figure who is known for drug trafficking and contract murders, as well as businesses tied to the repressive North Korean regime, which the US has placed off-limits.”
No High-Level Arrests
Instead of bank executives being arrested, or even closing down the offending banks, many simply agree to deferred prosecution agreements. These include fines but no high-level arrests.
Unsurprisingly, little is done should a bank not live up to its end of the agreement. “Banks often get to the end of their agreement without actually fixing the problems. Then, instead of getting the prosecution that they had been threatened with, they just get another chance. And sometimes another,” says the report.
“Since 2010, at least 18 financial institutions have received deferred prosecution agreements for anti–money laundering or sanctions violations, according to an analysis by BuzzFeed News. Of those, at least four went on to break the law again and get fined. Twice, the government responded to this kind of repeat offense by renewing the deferred prosecution agreement — the very tool that failed the first time.”
US District Judge Jed Rakoff added “Under US law, a bank that engages in money laundering can literally be forced out of business by the government, and it is kind of surprising that government hasn’t taken that step, given the obvious deterrent effect it would have.”
Paul Pelletier is a former senior Justice Department lawyer who once led the agency’s fraud unit. He says there’s only one real way to deal with the problem.
“The bankers will never learn until you start putting silver bracelets on people. Think of the message you’re sending to repeat offenders.”
You can read the full FinCEN File investigation here.
Money Laundering of Global Banks Reported
US banks helping North Korean organizations to move illicit funds. Asian and European banks’ alleged involvement in money laundering. These are some of the leaked suspicious bank transactions reports that alleged major banks as helping move money illegally. Earlier today, BuzzFeed shared leaked documents submitted by banks to the government.
Suspicious Bank Money Laundering Cases Reported
These include suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. BuzzFeed shared these 2,000+ SARs with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). It reported SARS amounting to $2 trillion between 1999 and 2017. While SARs flag these to authorities, they are not definite proof of wrongdoing.
Five Global Banks Are Among Those Reported
According to ICIJ, five global banks appeared most often in the documents. These are HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered, and Bank of NY Mellon. The reports showed an overwhelmed banking system. One that allows vast amounts, which can include illicit funds, to get past tight controls.
Once banks detect suspicious activity, they have 60 days to file SARs. However, some banks took years before submitting reports. SARs also showed that banks moved funds for companies registered in offshore havens. These include the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and Panama. Staff is often unaware of account owners. As a result, they often search for Google to determine the identity of people behind the transactions.
The reports include funds processed by JPMorgan for alleged corrupt entities and persons. They include recipient countries such as Venezuela, Ukraine, and Malaysia. The report also included an instance where HSBC accepted and moved money from a Ponzi scheme. A Deutsche Bank SAR said it processed money linked to a Ukrainian billionaire.
Bank Stocks Fall Due to News
Shares of both HSBC and Standard Chartered fell when news broke out Monday morning. Standard Chartered shares fell 2.69%, while HSBC sank 2.91%. Earlier, HSBC shares fell to its lowest price in 25 years.
When asked to comment, HSBC said that they already moved on from the charges. In a statement, HSBC said that all “the information provided by the ICIJ is historical.” It claimed the transactions were already flagged by the Justice Department in 2017. As such, they already met commitments under a deferred prosecution pact. As part of the deal, the Feds deferred all charges if HSBC would fight money laundering. HSBC said they already overhauled their system to fight financial crime. “HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012,” the bank noted.
Standard Chartered also reacted to the news. It said, “We take our responsibility to fight financial crime extremely seriously and have invested substantially in our compliance programs.”
North Korea Moved Money Across Borders
NBC News reported how North Korea got its money despite a global ban. Sanctions prevent Pyongyang from accessing the global banking system. According to documents, NK-linked organizations moved $175 million over the years. These transactions cleared through US banks such as JP Morgan and the Bank of New York Mellon.
Former Treasury Department official Erick Lorber believes that North Korea was behind it. He said: “Taken as a whole, you have what, frankly, looks like a concerted attack by the North Koreans to access the U.S. financial system over an extended period through multiple different avenues in ways that were fairly sophisticated.”
Money Laundering Techniques
A firm from Dandong, China (near the NK border), transacted with North Korea in the open. In 2016, the U.S. indicted Ma Xiaohong and officers of Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Corp. They charged Ma and the company for money laundering and helping NK evade sanctions. SARs showed Dandong Hongxiang routed money through China, Singapore, Cambodia, to North Korea. They also used shell companies to move millions of dollars through U.S. banks.
Other reported transactions were from companies from Singapore and China. Until now, charges remain pending and there are no extradition orders.
Who should be the ones responsible and charged with the crime? Are they the rogue countries, who keep finding ways to get their illicit money? Or are they the companies and persons willing to act as fronts? Or do we focus our attention on banks, who may be looking the other way in the name of fat fees and corporate profits? One thing is certain: it’s all about the money.
Watch this as BBC reports that UK banks may have helped with money laundering and moving illicit funds:
Let us know who you think is the most complicit by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.
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