Currency Wars | James Rickards

Summary of: Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis
By: James Rickards


Embark on a riveting journey into the world of global financial conflicts and the potential perils they present in ‘Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis’ by James Rickards. This book summary delves into the intricacies of financial strain and the effects of currency devaluations on domestic and international economies. Explore global events through the lens of currency wars, including the Great Depression, recurring instances of currency manipulation, and the modern-day rivalry between the US dollar and the Chinese yuan. Prepare yourself for an eye-opening experience that will provide you with a clearer understanding of the tumultuous world of international finance.

The Financial War Simulation

The United States faces new threats from global actors such as jihadists, with perils including chemical, biological, and Internet-based attack systems, as well as financial weapons that can undermine US and global capital markets. To prepare for the possibility of a global economic battle, the Pentagon simulated a financial war game that marshaled Wall Street professionals, international policy experts, Department of Defense staff, and military personnel in late 2009. The simulation revealed that, in the event of a successful attack on the dollar, the US owns enough gold to survive a fiscal war, underscoring the link between national wealth and national security.

The Ugly Side of Currency Conflicts

Currency conflicts can lead to global financial crises and military conflicts. Currency devaluation to boost a nation’s export can hurt trading partners and invite retaliation. The Great Depression in the 1930s was the result of currency battles that led to invasions and attacks. The world has witnessed collapses of the dollar and global fiscal meltdowns due to competing currency devaluations. China has faced allegations of gaining market share through currency manipulation. The consequences of currency conflicts can be disastrous, and it’s essential to find diplomatic solutions to avoid them.

The Rise and Fall of the Gold Standard

For centuries, gold served as a currency for international trade, but from 1870 to 1914, it became the anchor for the world’s monetary system – the “classical gold standard.” This period is considered the first age of globalization, where productivity improved, inflation ceased, and society enjoyed better living standards. The gold standard stabilized international prices and created a system for adjusting trade deficits. Nations that followed the gold standard exchanged their paper money for gold at steady rates, and free-market principles were respected. However, the period ended with the onset of World War I, leading to the first of three global “currency wars” that would play out over the 20th century and into the 21st. By providing insight into the history of the gold standard, this book illuminates the key role that monetary policies play in the progression of societies and economies.

The Currency Wars and the Bretton Woods Pact

In the aftermath of World War I, Germany resorted to hyperinflation and devaluation to revive its economy, leading to a cycle of devaluations and economic turmoil that culminated in the Great Depression. The signing of the Tripartite Agreement in 1936 helped stabilize currencies, while the Bretton Woods pact in 1944 tied the US dollar to the price of gold, ensuring economic stability until 1973.

In the aftermath of World War I, the European nations faced enormous debts. Germany resorted to hyperinflation and devaluation as a means of reigniting its economy, sparking a cycle of currency devaluations across the world. The policy makers turned to the gold standard as a solution, but the situation only worsened. This resulted in financial disarray, leading to the Great Depression and the US stock market crash of 1929.

To restore economic order, the Tripartite Agreement was signed in 1936 by England, America, and France. This agreement was a significant step towards currency stabilization, ending the cycle of inflation, recession, and violence that stemmed from the currency wars. Finally, in 1944, the Bretton Woods pact was signed, tying the US dollar to the price of gold and setting an ounce of gold at $35. This pact ensured economic stability, with a few minor recessions, until 1973.

In the words of one expert, “If the dollar falls, America’s national security falls with it.” The Currency Wars and the Bretton Woods Pact lay out an essential lesson that currency wars result in sequential bouts of inflation, recession, retaliation, and actual violence.

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