"The dollar's 70-year dominance is coming to an end", writes Liam Halligan in the Telegraph. "Within a decade, greenbacks could be replaced as the world's reserve currency."
He isn't the first to predict this, and it seems to be received wisdom in some quarters. BRIC Development Bank plans are cited in aid by Halligan, along with stats on growing BRIC GDPs, and speculation over what currency (or currencies) the big Russia-China gas deal is denominated in.
Well, people have been announcing the end of oil priced in dollars for a long time, and it really hasn't happened. The banking crisis seems to have reinforced the dollar's standing. Given the haste with which the Russians came to the signing-table on the gas deal (reflecting their Ukraine-based desperation to show Europe we aren't needed), the chances that they came up with a fancy new currency arrangement are rather small.
In the long run, I have no doubt China will be up there vying for the Top Nation accolade, but as often argued hereabouts their hesitancy and false-footing in foreign affairs doesn't make them likely to achieve this any time soon. Timing is everything and "within a decade" for the end of the dollar as world reserve currency looks wildly premature.
I'd go further. The fact of China as putative Top Nation doesn't really map one-for-one onto currency at all, any more than we'll all soon be speaking Mandarin. 'Currency' means a lot more than 'politico-economic muscle', as the Euro-bloc is painfully finding out. A complex alignment of reliable legal system, flexibility & pragmatism of authorities, understanding of markets, ease of access, liquidity, adapatability & readiness to embrace change, lack of doctrinaire stubbornness and other factors is required - a combination not readily associated with, errr, China. Or indeed France, another country that has perennially tried - well, perenially hoped - to be some sort of global player. The City of London's dominance of the financial world has long outlasted the British Empire.
Changing the subject, but bringing it around to a similar conclusion, the Ukraine situation has obviously taken a very nasty turn while I was on hol. To chuck in my 2 bits-worth: as Raedwald has suggested, it's rather probable the Americans knew what SAM kit was available to the separatists. He asked - who did they tell ? which is one way of looking at it. I'd guess the USA has an absolutely top-notch vantage-point on everything in the region (just as we do in Cyprus for the Eastern Med) and could tell chapter-and-verse down to the very smallest detail. It probably won't, though, for the time-honoured reason of not showing its hand.
Yes, it's the USA and its dollar for a while to come.