In explaining why oil is traded in American dollars, Quora reports the following history:
Allegedly, In a series of meetings, the United States — represented by then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger — and the Saudi royal family made an agreement. The United States would offer military protection for Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, and in return the Saudi’s would price their oil sales exclusively in United States dollars (in other words, the Saudis were to refuse all other currencies, except the U.S. dollar, as payment for their oil exports). By 1975, all of the oil-producing nations of OPEC had agreed to price their oil in dollars and to invest surplus oil proceeds in U.S. government debt securities in exchange for similar offers by the U.S.
That agreement has propped up the American dollar during Washington’s wild spending binges. It has allowed America to create the massive debt we now have without going bankrupt. Just for the record, high inflation makes it easier to pay off that debt.
Yesterday Yahoo News posted an article that is not good news for the future of the American dollar.
The article reports:
Saudi and Chinese officials are in talks to price some of the Gulf nation’s oil sales in yuan rather than dollars or euros, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The two nations have intermittently discussed the matter for six years, but talks have reportedly stepped up in 2022, with Riyadh disgruntled over the United States’ nuclear negotiations with Iran and its lack of backing for Saudi Arabia’s military operation in neighboring Yemen.
Nearly 80 percent of global oil sales are priced in dollars, and since the mid-1970s the Saudis have exclusively used the dollar for oil trading as part of a security agreement with the U.S. government, according to the Journal.
The talks are the latest in an ongoing effort by Beijing both to make its currency tradeable in international oil markets and strengthen its relationship with the Saudis specifically. China previously aided Riyadh in construction of ballistic missiles and consultation on nuclear power.
Conversely, the Saudi-U.S. relationship has been increasingly frayed in recent years. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initially put forth a public image as a reformer, liberalizing the country’s policies on women’s rights and criminal justice.
However, the 2018 assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi has been catastrophic for both the crown prince’s public relations offensive and relations with Washington. The rift intensified after President Biden, who has said the assassination should make the kingdom a “pariah,” took office.
During the same period, China’s economic relationship to Saudi Arabia has grown closer, with the kingdom providing 1.76 million barrels of oil a day to the country in 2021, according to the Journal, citing China’s General Administration of Customs. While the country plans to maintain the dollar for the majority of its oil trading, a shift by the Saudis could create a domino effect for China’s other major oil suppliers, such as Russia, Angola and Iraq.
I am not a financial expert and would not presume to tell anyone what a safe investment would be for the future, but I can say that this is not good news for the American economy.