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Biden Has Used The Dollar As A Hammer — And Americans Might Be The Ones To Take The Blow


The Biden administration’s recent sanctions against Russia mark another instance of the U.S. leveraging the dollar’s global reserve status to further its foreign policy aims  — but the strategy could result in economic chaos and worsening inflation for Americans, experts told the Daily Caller New Foundation.

The Treasury Department put fresh sanctions on Russia on Wednesday to stem the flow of money and goods that can fuel the country’s war against Ukraine, leading Russia to announce an immediate suspension of dollar trades on the Moscow Stock Exchange, according to Reuters. Russia’s continued pullback from the dollar is just the latest example of U.S. adversaries growing opposition to the current world reserve currency, and if the dollar is ever widely abandoned around the world, it could usher in huge levels of inflation and force the U.S. to deal with its mounting national debt, according to experts who spoke to the DCNF.

“If the Biden administration were intentionally trying to destroy the dollar, I’m not sure what they’d do differently,” E.J. Antoni, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget, told the DCNF. “His spendthrift agenda has resulted in the dollar losing one-fifth of its value in less than four years, and his international policies have done even more harm by eroding the dollar’s reserve currency status. By freezing and then eventually stealing dollars owned by foreigners, Biden sent a clear message to the world that the dollar is no longer a safe asset.”

The Biden administration’s weaponization of the financial system against Russia has been particularly pronounced since the country launched its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, with the U.S. and its allies removing many Russian banks from the worldwide financial messaging system SWIFT and freezing hundreds of billions in Russian foreign reserves.

“A Rubicon was crossed in the form of policy choices made in the immediate aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022,” Peter Earle, economist at the American Institute for Economic Research, told the DCNF. “Those decisions included seizing hundreds of billions of dollars worth of Russian FX reserves (Russian holdings of US dollars) and ejecting most major Russian financial institutions out of the SWIFT messaging system.”

“In taking those actions, Russia was effectively kicked out of the U.S. dollar system,” Earle continued. “It was a turning point as it has put adversaries — and allies — of the United States on notice that the dollar, which has for seventy years been the default currency for international trade and settlement, can be weaponized, and thus that dependence upon the dollar comes with a heretofore unconsidered risk.”

The US, under Biden, has also continued to impose harsh sanctions on Iran in connection with the funding of terrorism. The Biden administration used $6 billion in seized assets in August 2023 as leverage for the exchange of five American prisoners.

Saudi Arabia became a full participant in Project mBridge, an effort dominated by China to create a central bank digital currency that could replace the dollar in the exchange of oil on the world stage, according to Reuters. The addition of Saudi Arabia to the program puts the project in the “minimum viable product” stage for wider use.

“Russia’s suspension of trading in dollars on the Moscow exchange is just the latest domino to fall, and it won’t be the last,” Antoni told the DCNF. “As de-dollarization snowballs, foreigners won’t want dollars anymore, and they’ll start exchanging the currency for American goods and services. It’s no exaggeration to say that this will mean 70 years’ worth of trade deficits pouring back to our shores.”

Further de-dollarization, depending on the speed at which it occurs, could cause another surge of inflation, which has already wreaked havoc on the finances of average Americans under Biden, with prices rising 19.3% since January 2021. Inflation has failed to fall below 3% since it peaked under Biden at 9% in June 2022, most recently measuring 3.3% in May.

“If you think the last three years have had bad inflation, just wait until those trillions of dollars currently held by foreigners come home and start bidding up prices,” Antoni continued. “It will embolden our adversaries and impoverish Americans. We’re in the opening stages, and it’s unclear if there’s enough time to stop it.”

A group of countries posing themselves as an alternative to the U.S. and its’ allies in the G7, including Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), have expressed their opposition to the dollar as the global reserve currency. In June, Russia announced that it had begun the development of a payment platform that will allow BRICS countries to bypass the dollar, providing countries that fear the weaponization of the currency by the U.S. another avenue for foreign exchange, according to Business Insider.

“The dollar’s status as the dominant international reserve currency affords the US what Valery Giscard d’Estaing famously called an exorbitant privilege,” Desmond Lachman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the DCNF. “By that, he meant that the US government could finance its budget deficit at relatively low interest rates by having the Fed print dollars that foreigners would hold. It also allowed the country to live beyond its means by consistently importing more goods and services than it exported. This is something that the US should not want to lose.”

The U.S. trade deficit widened to around $74.6 billion in April, the largest loss since October 2022. The federal government currently holds around $34.7 trillion in debt as of June 12, up from around $27.8 trillion when Biden first took office, according to the Treasury Department.

“If foreigners start selling dollars, we could have a dollar crisis in the sense that the dollar would get into a downward spiral,” Lachman told the DCNF. “That would be bad news for consumers in that it would tend to fuel inflation by substantially increasing our import costs.

“It would also lead to higher interest rates,” Lachman continued. “I do not expect that this will happen soon since the currencies of the dollar’s main competitors (the Euro, the Chinese renminbi, and the Japanese yen) all have serious problems of their own.”

The share of U.S. dollars in foreign exchange reserves has been gradually declining for the past several years, falling from over 70% in 2000 down to close to 55% in recent years, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Global use of the dollar has been a major source of demand for US government securities — Treasury bills, bonds, and notes, as well as Agency paper,” Earle told the DCNF. “Falling demand for dollars would, in short order, translate to falling demand for those government issues, which would both restrict the amount of debt that could be sold and result in higher yields on the outstanding debt.

“With less of a market for US debt and presumably no less of an appetite for government spending, taxes would have to rise and/or inflation to be used to make ends meet,” Earle continued. “Both of those mean higher costs of living and consequently a declining quality of life.”

The White House did not respond to a request to comment from the DCNF.

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