Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My Take on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

Actually, they are two of my comments on the draft of a weekly newsletter. They went largely unheeded, alas, but good friend Tag Murphy sent me the link to a vastly more exhaustive (and professional) analysis, which appears to be broadly in the same vein, so I am emboldened to post them here.

“I too think that it's a better than even bet that Japan will announce its participation in the AIIB by June but with a decent interval after Abe's DC visit. I also think that it's unfair to blame the Obama administration for the landslide participation of its European and Asia-Pacific allies Japan and South Korea were the only countries that the US had meaningful leverage over, and when the UK knocked out the rest of the dominoes, even that mostly dissipated.

“That said, don't overestimate the significance of the AIIB challenge. The ADB will still be around; likewise the WB--and more importantly the IMF and BIS, as well as SWIFT, VISA, Mastercard and other non-governmental institutions that have grown up around the international financial and monetary systems. What does it mean in this context for the Renminbi to challenge the dollar? It means the existence of a large and highly liquid market in Renminbi-denominated financial assets (including banking deposits). In other words, the Renminbi would become just another reserve currency, like the yen and Euro, but much bigger than the former and more trustworthy than the latter. And that's by no means a bad thing. Of course if the Renminbi (and Chinese financial institutions) become big enough, China could conceivably use that leverage as a weapon in the same way that the US is using it. It's something to keep at the back of your head, but it'll remain highly hypothetical, at least during my lifetime.

“Something similar can be said for RCEP, which excludes the US. As long as it does not replace WTO and TPP come through, it's not something to worry about.”


“I also think that it will be useful to remind your readers that the United States essentially was the only game in town from an economic perspective, although the USSR did provide an alternative model. China is not nearly as dominant, never will be. For that matter, the US is no longer so either.”

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