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U.S. scholar says China's proposal on int'l monetary system reform constructive
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08:29, April 02, 2009

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A senior U.S. scholar on international economics said Wednesday that China's proposal on international monetary system reform is constructive.

"I thought that the statement from China's Central Bank governor (Zhou Xiaochuan) was impeccable in terms of logic and in terms of its historical analysis. It's a very welcome contribution to the debate," Benn Steil, director of international economics at Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. think-tank, told Xinhua in an interview.

In his article of "Reform the International Monetary System," which was released at China's central bank website on March 23, Zhou Xiaochuan suggested a super-sovereign reserve currency after reviewing the inherent vulnerabilities and systemic risks in the existing international monetary system.

"I think that its analysis of the problem is a spot-on, absolutely impeccable in terms of his historical analysis and his logic. I think it does put, rightfully, pressure on the U.S. authorities to start thinking through these issues much more seriously," said Steil.

"Reforming an international monetary system is a very long term process. Governor Zhou is very right that the system we're living under now with one national fiat currency, being effectively the international reserve and trade vehicle for the whole world is historically unusual. The problem is that we're in uncharted territory in terms of where to go from here," he added.

Considering the re-establishment of a new and widely accepted reserve currency may take a long time, Zhou called in his article for a greater role of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), which was created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1969.

"The specific of his proposal, however, I think have many of the problems that we see in the current system. But the very fact that we can now begin to talk about this internationally and that China is contributing constructively to the debate, not just criticizing the U.S. authorities but proposing positive alternatives is a very welcome thing," he added.

"British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had referred to the November G20 summit, in the run-up to the meeting as a Bretton Woods II. And it seems that the Chinese are the only ones who are now taking him seriously. They are the only ones who have raised a fundamental issue about the sustainability of the international monetary system. Their timing is not coincidental," the director pointed out.

"If you haven't yet read the statement of the Central Bank governor Zhou on the international monetary system, I highly recommend it. It's extremely brief. But it's remarkable for a Chinese government statement," Steil said.

Source: Xinhua

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