The Shanghai International Gold Exchange (SGEI) was launched in September 2014, to internationalize the Chinese gold market and the renminbi. The timing of the launch is quite remarkable though, in the context of changes in the international monetary system (IMS).
2015 is likely to force a major shift in the IMS. Two developments are worth watching, the SDR basket will be reviewed, the renminbi will probably be adopted later this year, and the rise of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an international financial institution proposed by China with many Western members; currently France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Switzerland, New Zealand and the UK. Both developments are severe blows to the US dollar hegemony.
Last week I reported on, (i) the IMF terms for the renminbi to be adopted into the SDR, (ii) if these terms can be met this year, and (iii) what the role of gold will be in the process (read China, Gold, SDRs And The Future Of The International Monetary System). Since then there has been more confirmation of renminbi adoption in the media.
China’s yuan at some point would be incorporated in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Right (SDR) currency basket, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said, …”It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when,”
China and Germany conducted their first high-level financial dialogue here on Tuesday and agreed to strengthen macro-economic policy coordination
…confronted with a complex and fragile global economic situation, China and Germany as important economies should strengthen policy coordination, coordinate strategic cooperation, deepen financial and fiscal cooperation…
Representing Germany at the dialogue, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said that Germany and China have been working together very well both bilaterally and multilaterally in financial and fiscal areas…
According to a joint statement after the dialogue, the German side will actively support … China’s goal to add the RMB to the special drawing rights (SDR) currency basket based on existing criteria.
…During the dialogue, both sides reached consensus on issues such as investment cooperation between China and Europe, China and Germany and in third countries.
Kindly note, Germany officially has the second largest gold reserves in the world and are currently repatriating gold from the US. Thereby expressing their affinity with gold and their lack of trust in the US as their custodian. This Germany would like the renminbi to be included into the SDR.
The most important condition for the adoption of the renminbi is that it must be freely usable. From Criteria for Broadening the SDR Currency Basket, an IMF paper published in 2011, “that discusses a number of reform options for the eligibility criteria for the SDR currency basket”:
The freely usable concept and its two key elements—currencies should be “widely used” and “widely traded” —are set out in the Articles and serve important operational purposes.
The renminbi is currently “widely used” and “widely traded”.
Will Gold Be Included In The SDR Basket?
The reason the current IMS is up for revision is because the global fiat experiment has failed miserably. Having exclusively fiat currencies circulating within countries, without any anchor to a non-fiat reserve currency, is simply not sustainable. In shaping a new IMS the designers would be mistaken to create a system based on a basket of solely fiat currencies, which have just proven to be ineffectual. Gold could provide credibility and strength to the SDR.
In addition, we could read some clues (in my prior post) that the Chinese would like gold in the SDR along side the national fiat currencies. This would explain China’s aggressive gold purchases in recent years.
On March 9, 2015, Albert Cheng, managing director of the World Gold Council Far East, was interviewed by ShanghaiDaily.com:
Q: The council has signed an understanding agreement with the Shanghai Gold Exchange to work more closely via the International Board set up in the city’s pilot Free Trade Zone last September. Could you tell us how that will work?
A: The memorandum of understanding involves objectives to improve operation of the Shanghai Gold Exchange, such as attracting more international players. Gold is a hard currency, so if it is freely traded in China, it will have an impact on the yuan. The design of the International Board, allowing international and domestic investors to participate in the onshore gold market, has a symbolic meaning of some kind of convertibility. By signing the memorandum, we can help the Board marketing this concept to the international trading community.
In general the renminbi is not yet fully convertible, but in terms of gold it is; through the Shanghai International Gold Exchange. Logically all currencies in the SDR basket must be freely usable, and allowed to be freely exchanged for one another. If the renminbi and gold were to be added to the SDR basket it would help if there is an exchange for both, which is currently operating in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.
Will the Shanghai International Gold Exchange facilitate gold inclusion into the SDR?