James Rickards, financier and author of the excellent cautionary best-seller Currency Wars, has recently released a follow-on book: The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System. In it, Jim details how history provides plenty of precedent for the collapse that has begun amidst the major world currencies.
The historical progression is predictable enough that Jim is comfortable claiming that the next economic crisis we face will be bigger than the ability of the Federal Reserve (and the other world central banks) to contain it. And that such a calamity will happen within the next five years:
Chris Martenson: As you look forward the next three years what do you see coming? Are you predicting or seeing that this game changes to a new phase, The Death of Money? Is that coming in the next three year window? Or do you use this playing out over a longer timeframe?
Jim Rickards: No, I think three years is about right. I mean, it’s not necessarily going to be tomorrow. It could be tomorrow, by the way, the system is unstable enough. But it doesn’t mean we are going to get that catalyst tomorrow. But this is not a ten year forecast. I mean, I do not think we are going to make it ten years. I think three to five years is about the right timeframe, maybe shorter.
But the reason for that, again, it is scientifically based in terms of the scale of the system. And by the way, go back and look at these crises. They come particularly fast. Memories are very short. I think we are all fighting with what I call the 2-second attention span.
On October 19, 1987 the stock market lost 22% of its value in one day. Today, that would be a 3,200 point drop in one day. In 1994 we had the Mexican Peso crisis. In 1998, the Long Term Capital Management crisis. And I was involved in that, by the way. I was the general counsel of Long Term Capital Management. I negotiated that bailout and I know how close the world came to complete economic collapse. In other words, every stock and bond market in the world would have been closed on September 29, 1998 if we had not finished that bailout the day before. That is how close we came. Just because it did not happen, people kind of forgot about it and think it was a small event. But trust me, I was there. That was a very near catastrophe. In 2000 we had the dot-com collapse, NASDAQ dropped eighty percent. 2007 the housing market collapsed. 2008 the Lehman Brothers panic.
So these things keep happening; but here is the problem, Chris: the Fed has printed almost four trillion dollars to put out the fire from 2008. What is going to happen if we have a liquidity crisis next month or next year? They are at the limit of their balance sheet. They are already insolvent on a mark-to-market basis. And again, that is not guesswork. I actually was told that by a member of the Federal Open Market Committee. They are leveraged 80-to-1. They cannot do more. They cannot print another four or eight trillion. They are at the limit of confidence. They are not at the legal limit, by the way. Legally they can do it but they are at the limit of what people will really trust, or before the Congress would intervene.
So the next crisis is going to be bigger than the Fed. It is like they build a five foot sea wall and here comes a forty foot tsunami. There is only one clean balance sheet left in the world and that is the IMF. So the only way you are only going to reliquify the world in the next liquidity crisis is by the IMF printing their world money, these Special Drawing Rights or SDRs, and that is going to be the end of the dollar as a global reserve currency. Because if the IMF is going to print SDRs to reliquify the world they are going to need permission from China and Russia and other members of the IMF. The US has a big voice at the IMF but we do not control it. And so that really is going to be the end of the dollar right there. We may still have dollars — in fact we will — but it will be a local currency like the Mexican peso or Turkish lira. It will just be walking around money. But it will not be used for the important things in the international monetary system. This you can actually see coming. You can see these developments coming.
Chris Martenson: It has always been my perception that the IMF is a little bit of a US-centric organization, if not a lot. You think China would really go along with that?
Jim Rickards: I think China would favor it because the alternative is perpetuation of dollar hegemony. It would almost be to say that, no matter what the United States does, no matter how much we print, what deficits we run, what trade deficits we run, no matter how reckless we are, we can always print our way out of it. And there is a limit to that. So China would actually like to see SDRs. There is a lot of talk about; China making their currency a global reserve currency, being one. That is not even close. They are very, very far away from that. They do not want that because they would have to open their capital account. They would lose control. But they would not mind seeing the SDR as a global reserve currency. They just do not want the dollar. But they are stuck with dollars for the time being but the next panic when the IMF has to use SDRs to reliquefy the world; I think China is going to have a big voice in that. You can say it is US-centric but the problem with the US is that the Treasury and the White House want a weak dollar.
I mean, what good does it do you when your own country wants to trash the currency? What happened to the strong dollar policy? It’s over now and we’re in the currency wars. That is going to lead to a collapse and ultimately we are going to see either gold or the SDRs the new store of value on a worldwide basis.
Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Jim Rickards (34m:46s):
Reprinted with permission from Peak Prosperity.