Bloomberg, 23 January 2008:
- Billionaire investor George Soros said the fallout from the U.S. subprime crisis will bring about the end of the dollar's status as the world's reserve currency.
- "The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom, it's basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency,'' Soros said in a debate today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "Now the rest of the world is increasingly unwilling to accumulate dollars.''
- The dollar's share of global foreign-exchange reserves fell to a record low of 63.8 percent in the third quarter as demand for U.S. assets waned after the collapse of the U.S. housing market, according to International Monetary Fund data. It accounted for 65 percent three months earlier. The euro's share rose to 26.4 percent from 25.5 percent. IMF quarterly figures go back to 1999, the year the euro was introduced.
- The U.S. currency has dropped 11 percent against the euro and 13 percent against the yen in the past year. It has declined in five of the past six years.
- Soros made $1 billion in 1992 betting against the pound, forcing the British government to abandon a peg to a basket of European currencies. He was also the biggest financial backer of the failed effort to deny President George W. Bush a second term in office. The euro has gained 55 percent against the dollar since Bush entered the White House on Jan. 21, 2001.
- "From the 1980s we had the belief in the magic of the marketplace, and the authorities were so successful that they started to believe in this market fundamentalism,'' he said. "That's gone too far.'' In times of crisis, "they suspended the rules and they bailed out the banks. That created an asymmetric incentive system, a moral hazard, that allowed the expansion of credit.''
- Rising defaults on U.S. subprime mortgages sparked a rout in the credit markets in August, leading banks to cut money for consumer lending, hurting the U.S. economy's main engine. The Fed yesterday lowered its benchmark rate in an emergency move for the first time since 2001 after stock markets tumbled from Hong Kong to London amid signs the world's largest economy is sliding into recession.
- Soros has used past appearances in Davos to predict the dollar's decline. In January 2004, he said the U.S. currency would drop for a third year. It then fell 7 percent, according to a Federal Reserve trade-weighted index of the currency.
- Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley in Asia, said in Davos that while he remains a "dollar bear,"' the U.S. currency's slide may be reversed in the first half of this year as other economies in Asia and Europe are hurt by the U.S. slowdown.