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US Dollar Hegemony Tripped Up by Chinese Renminbi?

US Dollar Hegemony Tripped Up by Chinese Renminbi?

Um, no. Central banks not enthusiastic about the renminbi.

Global central banks are not dumping US-dollar-denominated assets from their foreign exchange reserves. They’re not dumping euro-denominated assets either. And they remain leery of the Chinese renminbi – despite China’s place as the second largest economy in the world and despite all the hoopla of turning the renminbi into a major global reserve currency.

This is clear from the IMF’s just released “Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves” (COFER) data for the first quarter 2018. The IMF is very stingy with what it discloses. The COFER data for each individual country – each country’s specific holdings of reserve currencies – is “strictly confidential.” But it does disclose the global allocation of each major currency.

In Q1 2018, total global foreign exchange reserves, including all currencies, rose 6.3% year-over-year, or by $878 billion, to $11.59 trillion, within the upper range of the past three years (from $10.7 trillion in Q4 2016 to $11.8 trillion in Q3, 2014). For reporting purposes, the IMF converts all currency balances into US dollars. This data was for Q1. The dollar bottomed out in the middle of the quarter and has since been rising.

US-dollar-denominated assets among foreign exchange reserves continued to dominate in Q1 at $6.5 trillion, or 62.5% of “allocated” reserves (more on this “allocated” in a moment).

Over the decades, there have been major efforts to undermine the dollar’s hegemony as a global reserve currency, which it has maintained since World War II. The creation of the euro was the most successful such effort. The plan was that the euro would eventually reach “parity” with the dollar on the hegemony scale. Before the euro, global exchange reserves included the individual currencies of today’s Eurozone members, particularly the Deutsche mark. After the euro came about, it replaced all those. And its share edged up for a while until the euro debt crisis spooked central banks and derailed those dreams.

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