Indian joins Russia, China in questioning dollar dominance

Section:

By Mark Deen and Isabelle Mas
Bloomberg News
Friday, July 3, 2009

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601080&sid=aSx4wlTQzexM

AIX EN PROVENCE, France -- Suresh Tendulkar, an economic adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said he is urging the government to diversify its $264.6 billion foreign-exchange reserves and hold fewer dollars.

"The major part of Indian reserves are in dollars. That is something that’s a problem for us," Tendulkar, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, said today in an interview today here, where he was attending an economic conference.

Singh is preparing to join leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations -- the U.S., Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada, and Russia -- at a summit in Italy next week which is due to tackle the global economy. China and Brazil will also send representative to the G-8 summit.

As the talks have neared, China and Russia have stepped up calls for a rethink of how global currency reserves are composed and managed, underlining a power shift to emerging markets from the developed nations that spawned the financial crisis.

"There should be a system to maintain the stability of the major reserve currencies," Former Chinese Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan said in a speech in Beijing today, highlighting the nation's concerns about a global financial system dominated by the dollar.

Fiscal and current-account deficits must be supervised, as "your currency is likely to become my problem," said Zeng, who is now the head of a research center under the government's top economic planning agency. The People's Bank of China said June 26 that the International Monetary Fund should manage more of members' reserves.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly called for creating a mix of regional reserve currencies as part of the drive to address the global financial crisis, while questioning the dollar's future as a global reserve currency. Russia's proposals for the Group of 20 major developed and developing nations summit in London in April included the creation of a supranational currency.

"We will resume" talks on the supranational currency proposal at the G-8 summit in L'Aquila on July 8-10, Medvedev aide Sergei Prikhodko told reporters in Moscow today.

Singh adviser Tendulkar said that big dollar holders face a "prisoner's dilemma" in terms of managing their holdings. "That's why I'm telling them to do this," he said.

He also said that world currencies need to adjust to help unwind trade imbalances that have contributed to the global financial crisis.

"The major imbalances that led to the current situation, the current account surpluses and deficits, have to be addressed," he said. "Currency adjustment is one thing that suggests itself."

For all the complaints about the dollar, emerging markets such as India remain dependent on the currency of the U.S., the world's largest economy and a $2.5 trillion export market. The IMF said June 30 that the share of dollars in global foreign-exchange reserves increased to 65 percent in the first three months of this year, the highest since 2007.

Tendulkar said that the matter needs to be taken up in international talks, and that it emphasizes the need for those talks to go beyond the traditional G-8.

"They can meet if they want to," he said. "The G-20 has a wider role, has representation of the countries that are likely to lead the recovery process."

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