Bypassing the buck

Matthew Oresman warns that a weaponized dollar might endanger the currency’s safe haven status.

The World Today Updated 27 September 2020 Published 1 August 2020 2 minute READ

Matthew Oresman

Partner, Pillsbury’s London Law Office

From a short-term perspective, the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the pre-eminence of the US dollar. A safe haven in otherwise choppy economic waters, central banks and investors have rushed to buy up ever-increasing amounts of the currency.

While the dollar is still king, there are increasing risks that United States’ foreign policy could unintentionally cause an alternative currency to gain traction. The ubiquity of the dollar has been exploited by successive administrations to put pressure on states through coercive economic measures.

The Trump administration – which in 2018 alone imposed sanctions on a record 1,500 people, companies and entities – has vastly accelerated American foreign policy’s reliance on sanctions. It has been able to achieve this largely because there are no alternatives to the dollar – a stable currency underpinned by a resilient economy.

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