NEW YORK – Russian President Vladimir Putin has once again declared “the petrodollar must die,” leaving no doubt he is on a mission to reduce the importance of the U.S. dollar as a measure of international oil trade.
Reuters reported Thursday that Putin, in a visit to the newly annexed Crimea, said Russia should aim to sell its oil and gas for rubles globally, because the dollar monopoly in energy trade was damaging Russia’s economy.
“We should act carefully,” Reuters quoted Putin as saying. “At the moment we are trying to agree with some countries to trade in national currencies.”
At the same time, economics blog ZeroHedge.com is reporting Russia’s Gazprom has a lock-hold on Europe at least until 2016, the earliest date commercial shale gas production in Europe will be of sufficient quantity to make an impact on the continent’s energy market.
According to Treasury Department records, Russia in March sold off one-third of its U.S. Treasury debt holdings. Russia reduced its U.S. Treasury holdings from $153 billion in March 2013 to $100.4 billion in March 2014. The most recent numbers remain at a reduced level, with Russia holding $111.4 billion in U.S. treasuries in May 2014, compared to $143.4 billion in May 2013.
The Russian sell-off of U.S. Treasury debt has been widely interpreted as reflecting Moscow’s adverse reactions to economic sanctions the Obama administration imposed on Russia as punishment for taking over Crimea and threatening military involvement in Ukraine.
The Voice of Russia reported May 13 that Russia’s Ministry of Finance is ready to give a green light to a plan to radically increase the role of the Russian ruble in export operations while reducing the share of Russia’s dollar-denominated transactions.
The Voice of Russia report detailed a “de-dollarization meeting” chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov involving top level experts from Russia’s energy sector, banks and governmental agencies. The leaders were summoned to find a way to increase Russia’s ruble-denominated dollars to retaliate against the recently imposed U.S. economic sanctions.
In May, China agreed to buy $400 billion of Russian-produced natural gas over 30-years, valued in domestic currencies, in what was touted as Gazprom’s biggest contract ever.
In August, Russia signed a historic deal with Iran to purchase $20 billion of oil in rubles, bypassing Western sanctions against Iran while hastening the petrodollar’s decline.
Economist Jim Rickards, has predictedthe decline of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency in international trade will very likely result in an increase in the price of oil.
“There is also a newly emerging alliance among Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and Russia,” Rickards pointed out in a recent interview.
“The new alignment will have no particular use for U.S. dollars and no reason to support them. This turn of events marks the beginning of a significant diminution in the role of the dollar in the international monetary system. Since the price of gold is, in large part, simply the inverse of the value of a dollar, the decline of the dollar will presage a major increase in the dollar price of gold.”
Rickards, the author of “Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis”, published in 2012, and “The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of International Monetary System”, in 2014, has been predicting the collapse of the dollar as the world’s international reserve currency.
“China has 3 trillion dollars [in reserve holdings], but they are buying gold as fast as they can,” Rickards told RT.com in May. “China worries that the U.S. is going to devalue the dollar through inflation so they want to have a hedge if the dollar goes down, so the gold will go up.”
Forbes reported in March that China replaced India as the world’s largest consumer of gold.
China’s holdings of U.S. Treasury debt has declined from $1.39 billion in May 2013 to approximately $1.27 billion in May 2014.
Meanwhile, gold was trading at about $1,313 an ounce Thursday.