Three Consequences of a Worthless U.S. Dollar

The United States emits paper dollars. The dollar has no intrinsic value. Its issuer guarantees nothing. It is merely a piece of paper – a Federal Reserve Note. Present it to the Federal Reserve Bank, if you want. All you will get is another one just like it, nothing more. Still, foreigners are happy to take them in exchange for goods and service; Americans are happy to spend them. Everyone is happy. But quantity and quality vary inversely, at least in matters of international currency exchange. The more dollars out and about in the world, the less ultimate purchasing power each one has.

But here is the unique twist that makes the story of global finance, circa 2007, such a blockbuster: Many, if not most, nations earn their dollars by selling things to Americans. A falling dollar, meaning a rising local currency, puts the selling economy at a disadvantage compared to other U.S. suppliers. So, the local central bank prints up local currencies to buy the dollars – to help drive the dollar up and drive their local paper down. The weaker the dollar gets… the more local currency they need to print to help boost it up.

Result #1: Money, money, money… trillions of different kinds of it, everywhere… all the colors of the rainbow… in as many languages as Babel… and national heroes, emblems, bridges, church windows… you name it.

Result #2: Inflation in asset prices. Stocks in China have almost doubled so far this year. Andy Warhol’s handiwork is selling for millions. Prestigious houses soar.

“I don’t see how you can go wrong buying the best houses in England,” says a friend of ours, who has just bought a place in Cornwall. “Rich people from all over the world are coming in. They buy at the top end. And at the top end there just is not an unlimited supply. There’s only so much coastline, for example. It stands to reason that it will become more valuable.”

But it is Result #3 that interests us now. A speculative, inflation-based asset bubble should be followed by a correction… a crash… a contraction… a slump… a vaguely punk feeling… at least a little bad hair day… but maybe even a depression! When? Where? How? We don’t know.

But that’s what makes it so interesting…

Bill Bonner
Markets and Money

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

Bill Bonner

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2 Comments on "Three Consequences of a Worthless U.S. Dollar"

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thank you.
i was scratching my head looking for a answer as to how indian rupee has not gone up against the dollar in the last 3-4 years when most currencies have appreciated against the dollar.

and how come things are not double expensive comparing to five year old prices.

india is getting a ton of foreign investment, but indian gov keeps printing money to support the stable exchange rate, i wonder how long they can continue this path?

what happens when inflation grows at the rate of 10% every year?…can it continue forever or there will be some social unrest or economic problems?


and how come things are *not* double expensive comparing to five year old prices
it should read…things are double expensive now in india compared to five years ago.

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