The foundations of Bretton Woods II crumbled last week when the G7 seized Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, the investment bank said.
The Russian-Ukrainian war will create a new world financial order from which Bitcoin is set to benefit, according to Credit Suisse.
Zoltan Pozsar, global head of short-term interest rate strategy at the giant investment bank, wrote in a Monday report that Western sanctions on Russia are likely to cause a paradigm shift in the way the world organizes money and reserves, a “Bretton Woods III” kind of scenario.
“From the Bretton Woods era backed by gold bullion, to Bretton Woods II backed by inside money, to Bretton Woods III backed by outside money,” the strategist wrote.
Pozsar argues that the fall of Bretton Woods II ensued last week as G7 countries decided to seize Russia’s foreign exchange (FX) reserves, leading to a rise of outside money – reserves kept as commodities – over inside money – reserves kept as liabilities of global financial institutions.
“We are witnessing the birth of Bretton Woods III – a new world (monetary) order centered around commodity-based currencies in the East that will likely weaken the Eurodollar system and also contribute to inflationary forces in the West,” the report states.
Russia, a surplus agent in the financial system, can now no longer make use of the hefty FX reserves it accumulated through its commodity exports over the decades to defend its falling ruble or aid its local economy. Moreover, Russia’s ability to export its commodities has been severely hurt due to the “buyer’s strike” in the West.
“What we are seeing at the 50-year anniversary of the 1973 OPEC supply shock is something similar but substantially worse – the 2022 Russia supply shock, which isn’t driven by the supplier but the consumer,” the strategist wrote. “The aggressor in the geopolitical arena is being punished by sanctions, and sanctions-driven commodity price moves threaten financial stability in the West.”
Pozsar argues that while Western central banks cannot close spreads between Russian and non-Russian commodity prices as sanctions lead them in opposite directions, the People’s Bank of China can “as it banks for a sovereign who can dance to its own tune.”
“If you believe that the West can craft sanctions that maximize pain for Russia while minimizing financial stability risks and price stability risks in the West, you could also believe in unicorns,” Pozsar wrote.
As outside money keeps trumping inside money, this crisis will likely emerge and end differently than all others ever since Nixon broke off the gold standard in 1971 – which marked the end of the era of commodity-based money.
“When this crisis (and war) is over, the U.S. dollar should be much weaker and, on the flipside, the renminbi much stronger, backed by a basket of commodities,” Pozsar wrote. “After this war is over, ‘money’ will never be the same again…and Bitcoin (if it still exists then) will probably benefit from all this.”