More news that the countries which hold the largest US Dollar reserves are beginning to “diversify” into other currencies and investments. Friday’s WSJ has an interesting article ($link) about the future of the Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund:
The Gulf petro-states control a vast hoard of investable funds, one that is sure to grow vaster. Combined, government investment arms in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar hold an estimated $1.5 trillion. That gives them potential to sway the course of broad global financial markets, including exchange and interest rates, the now-slowed buyout boom and the global credit dislocations stemming from US subprime mortgages.
The Middle East’s government investment arms are at the fulcrum of a longer-term shift in global financial flows from the West’s developed markets to the faster-growing economies of India, China, Southeast Asia and Turkey, places where many Middle Easterners see their fortunes lying in the future. Mr Al-Sa’ad is cutting the portion of the portfolio invested in the U.S. and Europe to less than 70% from about 90%. “Why invest in 2%-growth economies when you can invest in 8%-growth economies?” he asks.
That shift might lower the appetite for low-yielding investments such as the bonds the U.S. government must sell in large numbers to finance its budget and trade deficits. All else being equal, reduced buying of Treasuries and other U.S. securities would tend to weaken the dollar and make U.S. exports more competitive globally, but also burden businesses and consumers in the U.S. by pushing up interest rates.
I highlighted what I think are the most important takeaways of this news, neither of which is positive for the future of the US Dollar:
1. Because of the massive amount of US Dollars and US Treasuries owned by our trading partners, they probably have as much influence on the US economy as does the Federal Reserve.
2. As countries such as Kuwait and China create “sovereign wealth funds”, they will diversify out of US Treasuries into investments with stronger growth potential.