Moscow law­maker pushes to ban dol­lar due to U.S. debt

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY MARC BEN­NETTS

MOSCOW | Pre­dict­ing the im­mi­nent col­lapse of the U.S. dol­lar, a Rus­sian law­maker sub­mit­ted a bill to his coun­try’s par­lia­ment Wed­nes­day that would ban the use or pos­ses­sion of the Amer­i­can cur­rency.

Mikhail Degt­yarev, the law­maker who pro­posed the bill, com­pared the dol­lar to a Ponzi scheme. He warned that the gov­ern­ment would have to bail out Rus­sians hold­ing the U.S. cur­rency if it col­lapses.

“If the U.S. na­tional debt con­tin­ues to grow, the col­lapse of the dol­lar sys­tem will take place in 2017,” said Mr. Degt­yarev, a mem­ber of the na­tion­al­ist Lib­eral Demo­crat Party who lost in Moscow’s re­cent mayoral elec­tion.

“The coun­tries that will suf­fer the most will be those that have failed to wean them­selves off their de­pen­dence on the dol­lar in time. In light of this, the fact that con­fi­dence in the dol­lar is grow­ing among Rus­sian cit­i­zens is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous.”

The bill would par­tially re­vive a Sovi­etera ban on the dol­lar. It would pro­hibit Rus­sians from hold­ing dol­lars in the coun­try’s banks, and banks would be un­able to carry out trans­ac­tions in the dol­lar.

How­ever, Rus­sians still would be able to buy or sell dol­lars while abroad and hold dol­lar ac­counts in for­eign banks.

Rus­sia’s Cen­tral Bank and the gov­ern­ment would be ex­empt from the law.

Rus­sian fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts were largely crit­i­cal of the bill, which they sug­gested was more about mak­ing po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal on the back of ris­ing anti-U.S. sen­ti­ment in Rus­sia than pro­tect­ing the coun­try’s econ­omy.

“The Amer­i­can fi­nan­cial sys­tem, de­spite all its ex­ist­ing prob­lems, re­mains the most sta­ble and low-risk in the world,” said fi­nan­cial an­a­lyst An­drei Shenk.

He also warned that the bill would harm Rus­sia’s in­vest­ment cli­mate.

Another an­a­lyst warned that the bill would strip Rus­sians of the abil­ity to flee the coun­try to seek greater po­lit­i­cal and so­cial free­doms.

“The right to the free ex­change of cur­ren­cies is a fun­da­men­tal el­e­ment of cap­i­tal­ism,” said Moscow-based eco­nom­ics an­a­lyst Igor Suz­dalt­sev. “It al­lows cit­i­zens to leave the coun­try when a dic­ta­tor­ship is im­posed by sell­ing their prop­erty and exchanging their as­sets for the nec­es­sary cur­rency.”

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