Catherine shakdam

#9 The Petrodollars and America’s Military Complex

The United States dollar remains de facto world currency. Accordingly, almost all oil sales throughout the world are denominated in United States dollars (USD). Because most countries rely on oil imports, they are forced to maintain large stockpiles of dollars in order to continue imports. This creates a consistent demand for USDs and ostensibly supports the USD’s value, regardless of economic conditions in the United States. According to proponents of the petrodollar warfare hypothesis, this in turn allegedly allows the US government to gain revenues through seignorage and by issuing bonds at lower interest rates than supposedly they otherwise would be able to. As a result, the U.S. government, according to this theory, can run higher budget deficits at a more sustainable level than most other countries can. The theory points out that a stronger USD also means that goods imported into the United States are relatively cheap (although the country’s exports become relatively more expensive for the rest of the world). Another component of the hypothesis is that the price of petroleum is more stable in the U.S. than anywhere else since importers do not need to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. Since the U.S. imports a great deal of oil, its markets are heavily reliant on oil and its derivative products (jet fuel, diesel fuel, gasoline, etc.) for their energy needs. As the price of oil can be an important political factor, U.S. administrations are quite sensitive to the price of oil. Political competitors of the United States therefore have some interest in seeing oil denominated in euros or other currencies. The EU could also theoretically accrue the same benefits if the euro replaced the dollar.

 

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