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BRICS Common Currency: Bold Move Against the Dollar’s Dominance or Just a Mirage?

by Onuraag Das   ·  August 22, 2023   ·  

In an age marked by rapid economic shifts and geopolitical uncertainties, the Dollar’s Dominance remains a consistent beacon in the tumultuous seas of global finance. But looming on the horizon is a potential challenge: the idea of a common currency among the BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. As these emerging giants consider joining monetary forces, many ponder whether such a move could genuinely threaten the dollar’s supremacy or if it’s merely a fleeting fantasy.

In the face of the Dollar’s Dominance, BRICS nations mull a unified currency amidst global financial complexities and individual national challenges.

The narrative of the Dollar Primacy is no new tale. With its longstanding hegemony in the world economic and financial system, challengers have often arisen but failed to materialize substantial threats. Amidst this backdrop, murmurs have emerged about a currency initiative by the BRICS nations. It’s no secret that these nations, rich in resources and boasting large populations, wield considerable influence on the global stage. Yet, can their combined power pose a credible challenge to the dollar?

BRICS has already showcased their ambition to realign global financial power structures with the inception of the New Development Bank. Intended to serve as an alternative to the West-dominated IMF and World Bank, it symbolizes the collective aspiration of the Global South to decrease Western influence. Yet, ambitions aside, the journey to a shared currency is fraught with complications.

Historically, the journey of a common currency isn’t encouraging. Take China’s yuan, for instance. Despite the International Monetary Fund’s inclusion of the yuan in its basket of reserve currencies, it still holds a minuscule share of the global pie. This showcases the immense difficulty any new currency, even one backed by powerhouse nations, would face in challenging the Dollar’s Dominance.

For one, there are the individual challenges each BRICS nation grapples with. Russia faces international isolation and economic sanctions. China, after its meteoric rise, is now experiencing an economic slowdown. South Africa, once the poster child for post-Apartheid promise, grapples with political and economic challenges. These internal intricacies would undoubtedly influence and possibly impede the progression of a common currency.

Then, there’s the matter of historical precedents. Over the years, various threats were touted to dethrone the dollar: the collapse of the gold standard, the advent of floating exchange rates, and even China’s dazzling ascent post-reforms. Yet, the dollar weathered all these storms. According to the IMF, the greenback still accounts for nearly 60% of global currency reserves. The closest competitor, the euro, lags far behind with about 20%. This immense gap underscores the mountainous challenge any potential contender, including a BRICS-backed currency, would face.

Emerging-market central bankers, when broached on the topic, often assert their autonomy from the Federal Reserve. However, their actions invariably mirror, if not the exact timing, at least the broader trajectory of US rates. Lesetja Kganyago, governor of the South African Reserve Bank, aptly points out that managing any currency is a complex affair. A common currency requires a singular authority to call the shots, leading to potential disagreements and power struggles.

Additionally, establishing a unified monetary system would necessitate a shared purpose, much like the one guiding the European Union. The BRICS nations, diverse in culture, governance, and economic models, lack this cohesive vision. Each country’s unique challenges and objectives might make consensus on essential currency matters elusive.

But is the idea of a BRICS common currency entirely a pipe dream? History reminds us of times when the idea of unified currencies seemed far-fetched. The path to the euro was anything but smooth. Similarly, the Federal Reserve, which now seems an inevitable part of the American financial landscape, was once a contentious idea, only materializing in 1913 as a compromise.


In conclusion, while the conversation around a BRICS common currency is indeed fascinating, the practicalities and challenges it poses make it a daunting endeavor. The Dollar’s Dominance, forged through decades of global economic leadership, is not easily shaken. For the foreseeable future, the greenback looks set to continue its reign, even as emerging powers explore new avenues to amplify their influence on the global financial stage.

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