Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Stench of US Economic Decay Grows Stronger


On Thanksgiving eve the English-language China Daily and People’s Daily Online reported that Russia and China have concluded an agreement to abandon the use of the US dollar in their bilateral trade and to use their own currencies in its place.  The Russians and Chinese said that they had taken this step in order to insulate their economies from the risks that have undermined their confidence in the US dollar as world reserve currency.

This is big news, especially for the news-dead Thanksgiving holiday period, but I did not see it reported on Bloomberg, CNN, New York Times or anywhere in the US print or TV media. The ostrich’s head remains in the sand.

Previously, China concluded the same agreement with Brazil.

As China has a large and growing supply of dollars from trade surpluses with which to conduct trade, China is signaling that she prefers Russian rubles and Brazilian reais to more US dollars.

The American financial press finds solace in the episodes when sovereign debt scares in the EU send the dollar up against the euro and UK pound. But these currency movements are just measures of financial players shorting troubled EU-denominated debt. They are not a measure of dollar strength.

The dollar’s role as world reserve currency is one of the main instruments of American financial hegemony. We haven’t been told how much damage Wall Street fraud has inflicted on EU financial institutions, but the EU countries no longer need the US dollar for trade between themselves as they share a common currency. Once the OPEC countries cease to hold the dollars that they are paid for oil, dollar hegemony will have faded away.

Another instrument of American financial hegemony is the IMF. Whenever a country cannot make good on its debts and pay back the American banks, in steps the IMF with an austerity package that squeezes the country’s population with higher taxes and cuts in education, medical and income support programs until the bankers get their money back.

This is now happening to Ireland and is likely to spread to Portugal, Spain, and perhaps even to France. After the American-caused financial crisis, the IMF’s role as a tool of US imperialism is less and less acceptable. The point could come when governments can no longer sell out their people for the sake of the American banks.

There are other signs that some countries are tiring of America’s irresponsible use of power. Turkey’s civilian governments have long been under the thumb of the American-influenced Turkish military. However, recently the civilian government moved against two top generals and an admiral suspected of involvement in planning a coup. The civilian government further asserted itself when the prime minister announced on Thanksgiving day that Turkey is prepared to react to any Israeli offensive against Lebanon. Here is an American NATO ally freeing itself from American suzerainty exercised through the Turkish military. Who knows, Germany could be next.

Meanwhile in America the Obama administration has managed to come up with a Deficit Commission whose members want to pay for the multi-trillion dollar wars that are enriching the military/security complex and the multi-trillion dollar bailouts of the financial system by reducing annual cost-of-living increases for Social Security, raising the retirement age to 69, ending the mortgage interest deduction, ending the tax deduction for employer-provided health insurance, imposing a 6.5 per cent federal sales tax, while cutting the top tax rate for the rich.

Even the Federal Reserve’s low interest rates are aimed at helping the banksters. The low interest rates deprive retirees and those living on their savings of interest income. The low interest rates have also deprived corporate pensions of funding. To fill the gap corporations are issuing billions of dollars in corporate bonds in order to fund their pensions. Corporate debt is increasing, but not plant and equipment that would produce earnings to service the debt. As the economy worsens, servicing the additional debt will be a problem.

In addition, America’s elderly are finding that fewer and fewer doctors will accept them as patients as a 23 per cent cut looms in the already low Medicare payments to doctors.

The American government only has resources for wars of aggression, police state intrusions, and bailouts of rich banksters. The American citizen has become a mere subject to be bled for the ruling oligarchies.

The police state attitude of the TSA toward airline travelers is a clear indication that Americans are no longer citizens with rights but subjects without rights. Perhaps the day will come when oppressed Americans will take to the streets like the French, the Greeks, the Irish, and the British.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at:


Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 20, 2016
Eric Draitser
Syria and the Left: Time to Break the Silence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Extreme Unction: Illusions of Democracy in Vegas
Binoy Kampmark
Digital Information Warfare: WikiLeaks, Assange and the US Presidential Elections
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Bogus History Lesson
Bruce Mastron
Killing the Messenger, Again
Anthony DiMaggio
Lesser Evil Voting and Prospects for a Progressive Third Party
Ramzy Baroud
The Many ‘Truths’ on Syria: How Our Rivalry Has Destroyed a Country
David Rosen
Was Bill Clinton the Most Sexist President?
Laura Carlsen
Plan Colombia, Permanent War and the No Vote
Aidan O'Brien
Mao: Monster or Model?
David Swanson
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Less Than Two Weeks
Victor Grossman
Suicides and Hopes and Fears
October 19, 2016
Dan Schiller – Shinjoung Yeo
The Silicon Valley Candidate
Mike Whitney
Trump Unchained
Paul Buhle
Criminalizing the Struggle: Incarceration and the Rise of the Neoliberal State
Linn Washington Jr.
Abusing the Abused: Philly Police Abuse Case Typifies All-Too-Common Misconduct by US Prosecutors
Terry Tempest Williams - Brooke Williams
Rejected by the BLM
Binoy Kampmark
Neither War Nor Peace: Shimon Peres, Israel and History
Patrick Cockburn
This Battle for Mosul Will Not Be the Last
Joyce Nelson
Trudeau Bullying on Trade Deal
Thomas Mountain
Revolutionary Islam and Regime Change in Ethiopia
Serge Halimi – Benoît Bréville
The Limits of Eloquence: the Failures of Barack Obama
Mel Gurtov
America’s Dangerous Moment
Jerry Kroth
Questions for Obama Before Leaving Office
Michael Garrity
America is a Nation of Laws: Collaboration and Its Discontents
October 18, 2016
Srećko Horvat
The Cyber-War on Wikileaks
Zoltan Grossman
Stop the Next President From Waging the Next War
Jim Kavanagh
Hillary’s Hide-and-Seek
Robert Fisk
After Mosul Falls, ISIS will Flee to Syria. Then What?
Ted Rall
The 4 Things Hillary Could Do To Close the Deal Against Trump
Pepe Escobar
Why Hillary Clinton is a Bigger Concern for China than Donald Trump
Colin Todhunter
World Wide Fund for Nature: Stop Greenwashing Capitalism, Start Holding Corporations to Account
David Macaray
Whiskey Workers Go on Strike: I’ll Drink to That
James A Haught
After the Election, Back to Important Things
Arturo Desimone
How a Selective Boycott Can Boost External Support for Palestinians
Russell Mokhiber
If Chris Wallace Asks About Street Crime He Should Also Ask About Corporate Crime
Mark Kernan
Moloch in Paris: on the Anniversary of COP21
Carol Dansereau
The Hillary Push: Manipulation You Can Believe In
Andre Vltchek
Will They Really Try to Kill the President of the Philippines?
Sean Joseph Clancy
The Wreckage of Matthew: Cuba and Haiti
October 17, 2016
Paul Street
Pick Your Poison? Presidential Politics and Planetary Prospects
Patrick Cockburn
US Allies are Funding ISIS (and Hillary Knew All Along)
David Swanson
What Hillary Clinton Privately Told Goldman Sachs
Fran Shor
A Rigged System?