Währungs­reserven sind nicht mehr sicher

Der Westen klopft sich auf die Schultern ob des Einfrierens der russischen Devisenreserven. Das Problem ist, dass jede Notenbank davon ausgehen muss, dass die Forderungen, die sie gegenüber dem Ausland hält, mit einem Federstrich wertlos sind. Die Folgen für das Weltfinanzsystem werden wir erst in den kommenden Jahren gänzlich überblicken. Es war wohl ein Schritt, der die Geldordnung fundamental ändert.

Welche Alternativen bleiben? The Economist diskutiert das in der aktuellen Ausgabe:

  • “(…) almost as soon as Russia invaded Ukraine, American and European authorities froze the assets of the Central Bank of Russia. As others followed, the country’s first line of financial defence was obliterated. According to the Russian government, $300bn of its $630bn in reserves are now unusable.” – bto: Heute betrifft es die Zentralbank Russlands. Welche Zentralbanken könnte es morgen betreffen?
  • “The managers of the $13.7trn in global foreign-exchange reserves (…) care about liquidity and safety above all else, largely to the exclusion of profits. Much of their thinking was shaped by the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, when currencies collapsed in the face of huge capital outflows. The lesson learned was that reserves needed to be plentiful and liquid.” – bto: Wir haben ein System, in dem viele Länder Währungsreserven aufbauen wollen und müssen. Doch wozu sind sie gut, wenn man sie im Zweifel nicht mehr nutzen kann?
  • “Watching a big chunk of Russia’s reserves being made functionally useless is likely to be just as formative, (…) That is particularly true for the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (safe), the agency in charge of China’s $3.4trn in reserves. India and Saudi Arabia, with $632bn and $441bn in reserves, respectively, may also be paying close attention.” – bto: Aber auch Deutschland sollte das gut beobachten. Wissen wir, wer in den USA in drei Jahren im Weißen Haus sitzt?
  • “Central banks are bound to take into account which countries will and will not replicate sanctions against them. In 2020 Guan Tao, a former safe official now at Bank of China International, laid out a range of ways that China could guard against the risk of sanctions. In extremis, he suggested that the dollar could stop being used as the anchor currency for foreign-exchange management and be replaced by a basket of currencies.” – bto: Es ist im Interesse Chinas, in diese Richtung zu denken.
  • “There are few, if any, jurisdictions with large, liquid capital markets denominated in currencies that are useful in an emergency, but which do not pose a risk from a sanctions perspective. Some worried central banks might start increasing their holdings of yuan assets (which currently make up less than 3% of the global total). But that is no solution for China itself.” – bto: Letztlich kann es nur Gold sein, weil es kein Kontrahentenrisiko hat.
  • Gold, the original reserve asset, is a large liquid market outside any one jurisdiction’s control. Researchers at Citigroup, a bank, estimate that most of the reserves that Russia can currently marshal are in gold and the Chinese yuan. Yet the West’s sanctions are so expansive that they prohibit many potential buyers from purchasing the assets Russia has accumulated over the years. Even a would-be counterparty in a neutral or friendly country will think twice about transacting with a central bank under sanctions, if it risks their own access to the financial plumbing of the dollar system.” – bto: Das Problem lässt sich lösen, denn Gold kann man einschmelzen und dann mit einem eigenen Stempel versehen.
  • “There has been more adventurous speculation, too. Zoltan Pozsar of Credit Suisse, a bank, has suggested that China sell Treasuries in order to lease ships and buy up Russian commodities, arguing that the global monetary system is shifting from one backed by government bonds to one that is backed by commodities. Bold as the forecast is, it is also emblematic of the few conventional options available to reserve managers.” – bto: Das Problem ist für Russland dann nicht gelöst. Eigentlich sollten die Russen von uns Zahlung in Gold verlangen.
  • “And that lack of good solutions points to another drastic approach: that countries limit their use of reserves for their financial defence altogether. Various tools of autarky, such as tighter capital controls, could become more attractive. Governments also typically rely on reserves as the last guarantee that they can service foreign-currency debts. But if that guarantee is no longer absolute, then they are less likely to be comfortable issuing dollar- and euro-denominated bonds at all. Private companies may be prodded to de-dollarise, too.” – bto: Das ist ein weiterer Baustein der Deglobalisierung.

economist.com „Can foreign-currency reserves be sanction-proofed?“, 19. März 2022