Is the US Dollar All Spent?

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2009 6:35 PM CDT
People walk past a change office in Paris, Wednesday April 23, 2008.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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(Newser) – Sick of relying on the US dollar, critics around the world want it replaced as Earth's top currency, Michael Schuman writes in Time. A panel of UN economists and a top banker in China have called for a new unit—like the IMF's Special Drawing Units—to stabilize the global economy, but a quick switch seems unlikely, writes Schuman. Almost two thirds of the world's currency reserves are in dollars, and nations have an interest in preserving that value.

Still, critics have a point. The dollar's rise and fall has spiked energy prices and helped Washington to finance its budget deficits at an unfairly low cost, extending global inequality. The dollar also hitches the world to America's boom-and-bust economy. Rather than a sudden shift, though, some critics see a slow deterioration in the dollar's value. "This is the last major crisis in which the dollar is viewed as a safe haven," said one Harvard economist.