The End of the Petrodollar?

Armstrong Economics Blog/World Trade Re-Posted Apr 4, 2023 by Martin Armstrong

Another oil deal has been initiated without the use of the dollar. The India Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) announced that their latest trade deal with Malaysia would be settled in Indian rupees. “This initiative by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is aimed at facilitating the growth of global trade and to support the interests of the global trading community in Indian Rupees (INR),” the formal statement noted.

Indian has benefitted from the West’s distraction from the Ukraine war. The RBI is allowing 18 counties to open Vostro accounts and has been attracting new deals in trade and manufacturing. New Delhi and Moscow have strengthened their relationship as India is not imposing sanctions.  The Indian Commerce Ministry said its five-year plan is to “encourage” the use of the rupee on an international scale, while also planning to expand exports $2 trillion by 2030. Trading in rupees will also allow India to save on conversion spreads and limit the country’s dependence on the volatile dollar.

The BRICs treaty (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) remains strong and oil giants Saudi Arabia and Iran would like to join the partnership. The Saudis stated at the beginning of the year that they were open to settling trade in currencies other than the USD. “There are no issues with discussing how we settle our trade arrangements, whether it is in the US dollar, whether it is the euro, whether it is the Saudi riyal,” Al-Jadaan said during Davos. As we have seen in recent months, Saudi Arabia is aligning itself with China over the US.

The Vietnam war and other government missteps made it impossible for the US to maintain the fixed price of gold established under Bretton Woods. The USD relative to gold fell as the supply of dollars grew, pushing Nixon to abandon the Bretton Woods system entirely. US government debt was rapidly rising as confidence in the dollar plummeted. America needed an enticing way to sell its debt, and that was when Nixon convinced Saudi Arabia, the largest crude exporter, to purchase Treasurys in dollars in exchange for military aid. Hence the “petrodollar” was born. The creation of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) only further enhanced the dollar’s dominance in energy purchases.

Here we are yet again amid another war and a high budget deficit. The Saudis no longer need protection from America, and siding with Western interests would be a deterrent to its international deals with countries in the BRICs alliance and some in the OPEC+. Despite the green agenda, the world cannot operate without oil. The major oil exporters are now aligning and cutting out the US as their middleman.

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