- - Thursday, August 7, 2014

First in a series

New York—It is time to reprise the winning strategy America once used to ignite robust growth worldwide — let’s again make the U.S. dollar the strongest global currency, one everyone believes will reliably hold its value against competing alternatives.

To win for decades into the future, America’s central bank must soon raise dollar interest rates above accurate estimates for consumer price inflation on our own initiative and not because rising powers force our hand.

Doing so, may forestall efforts already underway by China, India, Brazil, Russia and energy-rich states to dethrone use of the U.S. dollar as the predominant reserve currency for the world.

On the other hand, if we continue for much longer with reckless policies that punish investors in U.S. dollar-denominated investments, we risk ushering in a disastrous scenario, where America loses control of its financial destiny, falling prey to rivals and enemies who certainly wish us harm.

Stop inciting an investor riot against the U.S. dollar

Because there are no other practical options at present, we trade pieces of paper for goods and services we need to exist and improve our daily lives. When we have sums left over, we trade the surplus for other pieces of paper, things like bank deposits, bonds, stocks and real estate.

We have come to accept a world where our money has only notional value.

If you listen to “experts,” you will hear from many that erosion in the value of our nation’s currency caused by inflation is a good thing — what any thinking person should expect happens in well-managed, advanced economies.

Global investors who have been punished for too long certainly see things differently.

During 2012, the average rate of interest that investors earned on U.S. government debt obligations with a 10-year maturity was 1.97 percent per year, well below the rate of consumer price inflation in that year (2.93 percent) and also below the average rate of consumer price inflation for the 14-year period from 2000 through 2013 (2.45 percent).

In 2013, interest rates on 10-year U.S. Treasury Notes dropped slightly to 1.91 percent, above the rate of consumer price inflation (1.59 percent) estimated in 2013, but well below the 14-year average.

Investors only trap themselves in instruments that provide such unacceptably low annual returns when they cannot find practical alternatives. Meanwhile, they work hard to change the status quo, thereby creating better ones.

The low interest rate, fiat currency world will not hold together

Currencies that are not backed by anything tangible (such as gold or precious metals) never last for long, as history in many nations over centuries illustrates.

Those of us living in America, Europe and Japan have been on notice for years that we cannot forever run up annual deficits in government spending while piling debt upon populations that grow more slowly than previously, while skewing to the cohort aged 55 and older.

In February 2007, almost exactly when the financial crisis roared into starkest relief, some respected observers believed that low interest rates on currencies such as the U.S. dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, and British pound were modern and permanent reality.

These soothsayers were correct that interest rates would stay low and fall farther than most thought possible. But they are about to be proven wrong concerning the duration of the low-interest rate era.

Decades earlier, an economist who later became chairman of the Federal Reserve System explained what is obvious again.

In 1966, Alan Greenspan noted correctly: “In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation.”

Because persistent deficit spending fuels inflation, and because elected leaders resist raising interest rates (when they can do so), he concluded that: “Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth.”

With geopolitical tensions mounting daily toward levels eerily reminiscent of past global conflagrations, the world watches to see what America will do next, so far with little assurance we will suffer the momentary pain of increased interest rates to win lasting longer-term gains.

The simple key to making our dollar strong again is reversing interventionist policies led by the Federal Reserve System that have artificially pushed down benchmark interest rates below official estimates for consumer price inflation.

Suppressing U.S. dollar interest rates certainly hurts the poorest 80 percent of Americans, who suffer most when prices for essential goods and services start to soar.

Keeping interest rates so low also punishes American savers and frightens away international investors.

Choosing to make the dollar strong again is a clear, easy, and workable choice.

Next: Turn the Federal Reserve System into a global fortress bank.

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