MOSCOW — The Central Bank of the Russian Federation announced this week on its website that in March, Russia bought approximately 30 tons of gold, bringing its total gold reserves to 1,238 metric tons. Russia is now the fifth-largest holder of gold reserves, according to the International Monetary Fund. And this is only the gold that Russia wants to the world to know about! As with China, Russia may not be fully reporting its gold reserves to the IMF, which is dominated by the United States. The West should be worried about China’s hoarding of gold as well, but that’s for another column.
Why is this a problem for the West? It’s not if taken in a vacuum of world events. However, when coupled with recent geopolitical history, Russia hoarding gold is a sign of things to come. It is a window into the mind of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
One only has to look at the fiscal and monetary foolishness of the current administration to understand that our overwhelming sovereign debt, profligate spending, and looming vulnerability of our currency, will ultimately bring disaster. Any objective observer can see that our adversaries are looking to the future and attempting to exploit our weaknesses. In the military, they call it asymmetric warfare. I’ll just call it smart long-term strategy.
Russia, in spite of all its xenophobia and authoritarianism, has one bright, shining characteristic — Russia does what it thinks is good for Russia. It does things that the Kremlin believes will enhance its national power. It doesn’t do things to appeal to some Western, idealistic, feel-good, politically correct agenda. They’ve been there, done that, and it just didn’t work. It was called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Why the West hasn’t learned from their experience I can’t understand as we are heading down that road.
Russia is not socialist or communist. They are nationalist. In some ways, you could say Russia is more laissez-faire capitalist than the West. There is no safety-net to speak of and oligarchs rule the country. I’ve always said Russia is, in many ways, a hundred and fifty years behind the West in its development. They are experiencing the age of the robber barons with all the problems that type of society will bring.
Moscow is hoarding gold because it believes this will enhance the ruble’s value and stability. Just like China, Russia playing the long game. Russia sees the decline of the economic power of the West and is preparing for the day when the tables will turn.
There is a saying on Wall Street, interest rates are low until they’re not. Currently, Russia’s key interest rate is in the high double digits. The central bank raised rates, despite the damage to the economy, to save the currency. It worked. But Russia has little debt to speak of. In the United States, we are paying basically nothing on a debt approaching $20 trillion. Our political Fed has intervened to keep interest rates artificially low. Even a one percent rise in interest rates will be hundreds of billions of debt service costs, something we simply can’t afford. This is where the gold-backed ruble will hit the road.
Russia knows this. The world knows this. Coupled with our lack of current leadership, our economic weakness has morphed into military and geopolitical weakness around the globe. Just look at what is happening. Bad actors are no longer afraid of the reaction of the United States — we’re broke! And, the process is just getting started. Machiavelli said, “It’s better to be feared than loved.” I fear the United States is neither.
There will be serious, deadly consequences to our irresponsibility, which emanated from both party’s lack of financial discipline. I’m talking fire and brimstone, cats and dogs sleeping together, lost generation kind of stuff. Seriously, younger American generations are going to have to relearn some very hard lessons of the past. They may not survive this coming test.
We have given our economic and possibly military adversaries an economic weapon. It is a ticking time bomb. At some point the Federal Reserve will lose control of the bond market. Our fiat currency will only be worth the paper it is printed on. The top-heavy, Western, socialist, welfare-state societies will collapse under their own weight.
Russia waits for the day when America wakes up and realizes Russia is the country with a gold-backed currency. All of their current economic problems aside, and despite what our president says about his supposed mastery of the global chessboard, Russia waits for the day when it has the economic thumb to wield over the United States. On our current trajectory, it’s not a matter of if, but when.
By L. Todd Wood