I have been teaching global political economy for a quarter-century, and during that time span, there have been recurring debates about the future of the dollar as the world’s primary reserve currency. No doubt they have been recurring for 75 years — as long as the dollar has been the primary currency used in international economic transactions. The United States benefits from having the dollar used in this way. As Paul Krugman recently noted, the economic rewards are minor but tangible. As Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman noted a few years ago, the geopolitical benefits are intangible but significant.
Anything that could appreciably shift the dollar’s standing would have significant international implications. This means any time there are incipient signs that this might be happening, we get a new round of “oh no, the dollar!” And after 25 years, I recognize these debates have a particular rhythm to them:
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