China, Russia and the race to a post-dollar world

Financial markets are going to become a major field of battle - a place to defend liberal values and renew old alliances

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Markets often react strongly to geopolitical events, but then later shrug them off. Not this time. Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a key economic turning point that will have many lasting consequences. Among them will be a quickening of the shift to a bipolar global financial system - one based on the US dollar, the other on the renminbi.

The process of financial decoupling between Russia and the West has, of course, been going on for some time. Western banks reduced their exposure to Russian financial institutions by 80 per cent following the country's annexation of Crimea in 2014, and their claims on the rest of Russia's private sector have halved since then, according to a recent Capital Economics report. The new and more aggressive sanctions announced by the United States will take that decoupling much further.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2022, with the headline China, Russia and the race to a post-dollar world. Subscribe