US policy mistakes could still threaten the greenback’s reserve status in the near term, according to the rating agency
The US dollar’s dominance in global trade and finance will persist for decades despite the challenges, as there are no viable alternatives at the moment, according to Moody’s Investor Services rating agency.
“We expect a more multipolar currency system to emerge over the next few decades, but it will be led by the greenback because its challengers will struggle to replicate its scale, safety and convertibility in full,” Moody’s analysts wrote in a note last week.
According to the rating agency, the multi-decade slide in the dollar’s share of central bank reserves and deepening geopolitical tensions are among the issues that could threaten the greenback’s global dominance.
IMF data shows that the dollar’s share of official FX reserves sank to a 20-year low of 58% in the fourth quarter of 2022, down from around 78% at the turn of the century.
“The greatest near-term danger to the dollar’s position stems from the risk of confidence-sapping policy mistakes by the US authorities themselves, like a US default on its debt for example,” said the report, which was issued before the debt-ceiling agreement was reached. “Weakening institutions and a political pivot to protectionism threaten the dollar’s global role,” it added.
The report noted that even if a default on US government debt would be shored up rapidly, it would permanently hurt US Treasury holdings as risk-free assets.
“Greater polarization in the domestic political environment over the last decade has weakened both the predictability and effectiveness of US policymaking,” it said. “Sanctions further inhibiting the free flow of the dollar in global trade and finance could encourage greater diversification.”
On Saturday, the White House and the Republicans finally reached an agreement in principle to lift the debt ceiling for two years while slashing some government spending over the same period in order to avoid a catastrophic default on the nation’s multi-trillion dollar debt. The sides had been in a deadlock for months over certain issues of the agreement, sparking concerns of a global market crash. US President Joe Biden on Sunday finalized a budget agreement with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to suspend the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until January 1, 2025, and said the deal was ready to move to Congress for a vote.
The dollar was down on Monday, sliding 0.25% against the yen amid the US currency’s diminishing safe-haven appeal. The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s value against a basket of other major currencies, was also slightly down to around 104.22.
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May 29, 2023 at 06:33PM