The Dollar’s Dominance as a Reserve Currency Eroded Last Year at 10 Times the Pace Seen in the Past 2 Decades
By Phil Rosen
– The US dollar’s reserve currency status has seen gradual erosion for two decades, Eurizon strategists said.
– But last year, the pace of erosion was 10 times faster amid currency sanctions against Russia.
– The dollar’s dominant role in international trade is unlikely to be challenged soon, Eurizon said.
The dollar’s standing as a reserve currency of choice saw a steep decline in 2022 even though its strength in international trade remains unchallenged, according to Eurizon SLJ Asset Management.
In a Monday note, strategists Joana Freire and Stephen Jen calculated that the greenback accounted for about two-thirds of total global reserves in 2003, then 55% by 2021, and 47% last year.
“This 8% decline in one year is exceptional, equivalent to 10 times the average annual pace of erosion in the USD’s market share in the prior years,” the authors said.
The drop-off in the dollar’s standing as a reserve currency accelerated since the start of the war in Ukraine in particular.
“Exceptional actions” — namely sanctions taken by the US and its allies against Moscow — made many nations less willing to hold on to the dollar, the report said.
After Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Western nations largely cut off Russia from the world financial system and froze its currency reserves, forcing the Kremlin to rely more on the yuan.
Meanwhile, the euro’s share as a reserve currency jumped by about 5%, Eurizon said, bringing its standing to the same level it hit in 2003 and effectively erasing two decades of losses.
China’s yuan, meanwhile, continued to gain at its usual pace and didn’t see a big spike as a global reserve currency last year.
To be sure, no other currency is set up to challenge the dollar’s dominance in international trade. It’s still the main conduit for country-to-country transactions, Eurizon said.
Citing data from the Bank for International Settlements’ Triennial Foreign Exchange Surveys, the dollar commanded 85% of all currency turnover in 2010, compared to its 88% market share in 2022, the note said.
“We believe the erosion of the dollar’s reserve currency status has accelerated in recent years at an alarming pace, especially since the start of the Ukraine War, while the dollar will likely continue to enjoy dominance as an international currency for a while longer,” it added.
Meanwhile, Fitch Solutions said the dollar’s dominance will erode over time but there won’t be a “paradigm shift,” given that there’s no viable alternative currency for international trade.