Thorbjorn Waagstein

Thorbjorn Waagstein

Thorbjørn Waagstein, Economist, PhD, since 1999 working as international Development Consultant in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The present international financial system centred around the US dollar is under pressure from several factors: the use of the dollar to punish other countries, the inflation in the US, the increasing US indebtedness, and the appearance of digital currencies and their potential for making international payments much faster and cheaper without using the dollar. The future is probably a fragmented and regionalised international financial system and a much reduced role of the dollar. But can it work?

Central Bank Digital Currencies are coming, and even if they initially will be used only domestically, they are bound to start playing a role in international payments too. This will diminish the need for US dollars in international trade and hence also lessen the US control with the international payment system. No surprise that the US is not at all enthusiastic about this development.

Despite much talk about the coming dedollarisation of the World Economy, the dollar continues to be the preferred currency for international trade and for building up foreign exchange reserves. There is no risk for the US that the Chinese Yuan will take over this role. But in the same way as US hegemony is about to give way to a multipolar world power system, the dollar hegemony will probably give way to a much more fragmented international financial system.

Saturday, 06 May 2023 17:32
Published in Politics

And what if Ukraine loses the war?

The mainstream thinking in the West is that Ukraine and NATO are winning the war. So the main discussions is how a desperate, defeated Russia will act. You know, wounded animals are dangerous. But what if – hypothetically, of course, against all the clever military expert opinions – it is the other way around? How will NATO react to being defeated in Ukraine? Will it be total war?

After China in December 2022 suddenly changed course from zero-Covid to total termination of all restrictions, all the usual Western China bashers were rejoicing. See, it was a failure! We handled the epidemic the right way, while Xi’s China bungled it! But if we make a comparison of the performance of the leading Western powers with China’s, it is hard to justify this rejoicing.

Friday, 13 January 2023 23:26
Published in Politics

Oh, what a lovely war!

The war in Ukraine is a Godsend for the US, and the best we can hope for is that it will continue for as long as possible, as it will ruin Russia. This is the opinion of an associate fellow from Chatham House, a think tank closely related to the UK Government, and frequent contributor to NATO related institutions as the Atlantic Council. Unfortunately, he probably reflects the thinking of influential circles in the US, UK and NATO. If that is the case, it may indeed end up being a very long war.

In the UN, Russia has been condemned for its war in Ukraine by an overwhelming majority of nations. Despite this, very few countries outside NATO+ are joining the sanctions against Russia. How come that the Global South is unwilling to support the sanctions? And will it be possible for the US to twist the arms of these unwilling countries to get them to align?

Sunday, 09 October 2022 22:28
Published in Economics and politics

The great decoupling

Whether there will be a technological and trade decoupling between China and NATO+ is not up for discussion any longer – it is already ongoing. What we still don’t know, is how far it will go, and how fast. A vicious political circle may imply that it will go very far, and very fast, at least if the US is to decide. Whether China will be able to prosper despite this technology war, is anybody’s guess. My guess is that it will.

Sunday, 28 August 2022 23:40
Published in Economics and politics

Playing with fire

Many countries build up reserves of gold and foreign exchange to hedge against sudden adverse events. As the currencies such as the US dollar and the Euro are not linked to any physical asset (as e.g., gold), their value is based on trust (called fiat money). However, the increasing politicization of the international financial system is eroding this trust. This may have far-reaching repercussions as some countries are now looking for alternatives.

Thursday, 25 August 2022 21:24
Published in Economics and politics

Can sanctioned countries survive?

It looks as if sanctions haven’t had the expected disastrous consequences for Russia compared to say Iran, Venezuela and Cuba, at least in the short term. But what about the longer perspective? Will the Russian economy implode or stagnate? Or will it be able to survive and perhaps even prosper? History tells us that both scenarios are possible and that the outcome to a high degree depends on how well the situation is managed and the legitimacy of the political leadership.

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