March 3, 2015
Only hours ago, Gallup released a new poll showing that only a small minority (just 17%) of Americans still view the US as the world’s economic superpower.
Echoing former US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers’ quip, “There is surely something odd about the world’s greatest power being the world’s greatest debtor,” it appears that economic reality is finally beginning to set in for Americans.
Yes, it turns out there are consequences when you habitually indebt future generations in order to buy bombs, drones, and body scanners.
There are consequences when you regulate every aspect of society, from how much people can earn on their savings, to what they can/cannot put in their own bodies.
The decline of the United States as the world’s dominant superpower was always inevitable. No nation or empire can hold the top spot forever.
History is full of examples of once-dominant superpowers that have declined (and even collapsed altogether).
Italy was the center of power and wealth in the world, not once but twice. France. Spain. England. Many nations have had their time as #1. The US is no different.
While many Americans are starting to realize that this is happening, what many probably don’t realize is what else happens as a result.
The last 2,000 years of global finance shows that the dominant superpower generally sets the global reserve currency.
Early civilizations used the Byzantine gold solidus for centuries given that the Byzantine Empire was the dominant power at the time.
But as Byzantium’s power rapidly faded, the government played dangerous games with their currency, prompting the rest of the world to find an alternative.
Italy rose to the occasion. As the most prominent rising power in Europe’s early renaissance, ducats and florins quickly replaced the solidus as the dominant reserve currency.
Spain’s later rise to power saw the ‘real de ocho’ dominate global trade. Britain’s rise to power in the 19th century saw the pound sterling become the supreme global currency.
And for the last seventy years, the US dollar has been the world’s dominant reserve currency.
Make no mistake—as US power shifts, so will the dollar’s reserve status. And this changes everything.
The dollar’s reserve status is why so many foreigners buy US government debt despite its extreme level.
It’s why the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet can explode by 500% without hyperinflation gripping the nation.
It’s why Americans can borrow at absurdly low interest rates in order to finance a higher standard of living that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
All of this goes away as US power wanes. And folks who don’t see the trend coming will probably see their lives turned upside down.
But this doesn’t mean the world is coming to an end. It’s not. The world is changing. And rapidly.
This is not some doom and gloom scenario. On the contrary, it’s ridiculously exciting. Great change brings about great opportunity for anyone who is willing to look at the big picture.
On one hand, it’s important to protect what you’ve got. A major change in the reserve currency will bring about significant turmoil in the financial system.
We could easily see multiple currency crises, bank failures, and capital controls.
But there are some simple, rational steps you can take to ensure you’re not a victim.
If your country is flat broke, then move a portion of your savings offshore to a strong bank in a country with no debt. Simple.
Likewise, move a portion of your retirement funds abroad to a safe place where your insolvent government can’t “help you” manage it.
Definitely put on your seatbelt. Develop a Plan B.
But then once your livelihood is secure (here’s the best part), look forward to the incredible business, investment, and lifestyle opportunities that will come from this great change.
Just imagine how prosperous you would have become if you had known what was to come in Rome before 476? Or France before 1789? Or the US before…?
There will be chances to build generational wealth betting on these big trends… for those who are willing to be a few years early rather than a minute too late.