KILLING SWIFT… SOFTLY
This has been a "geopolitical" week, and we round out what has thus far been a clown show, with Canada's Justin Turdeau being the clown in chief this week, closely followed by the clowns in the US Congress - McCarthy, McConnell - doubling down on more uniparty aid for the Ukraine in the latest "budget deal". But there's some more geopolitical bad news lurking, and I suspect that this article which was shared by many of you has a "hidden story" that will be the subject of today's high octane speculation. The story is simple: one of Russia's largest bank's chief executive officers, Andrei Kostin, is calling for an end to SWIFT (The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transfer), the computerized financial clearing system for the vast amount of financial clearing in Europe, Asia, and Africa, and thoroughly under the thumb of the USA, with headquarters in Brussels (gee....just like the European Union. What a coincidence!):
Note carefully what this article says, because what it is saying is nothing new:
Russia should abandon the use of the Western-controlled global financial messaging system SWIFT, the head of Russia's second-largest bank has argued.
VTB CEO Andrey Kostin has been persistently calling for the increased use of domestic currencies by Russia and its trade partners, describing it as a sanctions-induced necessity.
“We need to kill SWIFT in our transactions, the issue is quite simple, but it will require certain actions, including within individual countries,” Kostin stated on Friday at the International Banking Forum in Sochi.
He noted that most of Russia’s payments are already made in national currencies, including in trade with China, Indonesia, India, as well as Arab and African states.
Earlier this month, Kostin told RT that the Global South should establish a new financial system based on national currencies in order to mitigate the risks posed by the West. He insisted that the dollar, and the entire Western financial system built around it, has been jeopardized by the sanctions on Russia. The banker noted, however, that the goal is not to fight the Western financial system but to build a parallel system that will work to the benefit of the Global South. (emphasis added)
Now, if you've been following Russia's years'-long responses to the west's finance-and-sanctions regime, these points in the article are nothing new; you'll recall that Shinzo Abe's Japan extended the use of its credit card clearing system to Russia during an earlier episode when Russia's access to the SWIFT system was curtailed. At that moment, Russia also announced it was kicking Visa-Mastercard's clearing operations out of Russia, and implementing its own card system. All of these things were done.
Then the next chapter in this story was, as the article alludes to, the negotiation of bi-lateral currency clearing agreements between the various BRICS nations agreeing to settle international trade between them in their own currencies, by-passing the dollar. As an aside, do not forget to include that Indo-Japanese logistical support agreement of a couple of years ago, which in my opinion probably includes a secret protocol to agree to clear any such support in yen and rupees, bypassing the dollar once again.
More recently we've seen the talk from BRICS nations about their own version of a gold-backed currency.
So, if there is really nothing new in this article - after all, we've heard such things before from various components of the Russian government or financial sector, then what is going on?
I rather strongly suspect, and herewith the high octane speculation of the day, that these pronouncements must be read and interpreted in the light of the context I have just outlined. When one does so, I suspect strongly that it means two things, both huge with financial and geopolitical implications if true, and that both of these things will eventually become public knowledge. Kostin's pronouncements, taken within the wider context of the developments outlined above, imply that firstly Russia has built out the scaffolding of international financial clearing free of SWIFT, and like SWIFT, this system may by in part space-based, in part cable-based, and likely involves some combination of Russia's own card system and the Japanese system offered by Shinzo Abe some years ago. If that suspicion be true, then the shockwaves will eventually be felt. Even without Japan, however, I suspect that Russia has been partially successful in building and testing this system internationally. It's that international testing that brings me to my second point of the speculation: the international testing has consisted precisely in the electronic clearing of transactions in those bi-lateral currency agreements of the BRICS nations. This in turn strongly implies that there may already be an agree-upon unit of account being used to clear those transactions, and it is not the dollar.
Why not announce all this publicly? Because it would be too much of a shock to the global system, or to put it in the telltale statement 0f the article, the statement that indeed makes me think all these things are true: "...the goal is not to fight the western financial system but to build a parallel system..." In order to work, that system would, by the nature of the case, work much more efficiently with a unit of account built into the algorithms of the clearing system itself... We're in effect, in Venice, dealing with banks on the Rialto, trading directly from one currency to another, and bypassing Florentine ducats altogether. How did Venice do it? Units of account...
... or to put it in the simplest terms: if this speculation be true, then Russia is one clearing center of this system, and everyone is using its units of account...
Time will tell, of course, but at least with this speculative template in mind, we know what to watch for...
See you on the flip side...
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