If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times
Wriston, Walter B.
Baskets of Money
Concerning the dollar's gradual decline as the world's reserve currency, do you see countries resorting to a basket of currencies rather than relying on a single unit?
We have that now in the SDR which is basically a basket of currencies. It has been difficult to do technically, because you don't buy and sell harmonicas or oil or anything else with a basket. You do it with a currency. Still, there are various ways to weave a basket. Years ago, the Creditbank in Brussels issued bonds that were payable in a basket of currencies, so-called Euro Units, but it really never caught on. In the real world, when you're buying and selling wool or coffee or steel or whatever, you have to bill and be paid in one currency, then you can switch it into whatever you want. There is a feeling that as the dollar declined, people tried to protect themselves with a basket. But so far it's a very minuscule thing, other than the SDR.
Do you feel that the U.S. benefits from this? If so, in what way?
The dollar was overvalued for a long time. As a result, it was very detrimental to our exports and helpful to foreign exporters. The dollar is now seeking equilibrium, and I think that over time, when it reaches equilibrium, our export position will be better than it is now. I don't regard the situation as a disaster.
 Special Drawing Rights, made available under specified conditions to central banks by the International Monetary fund, are supported by, thus in one sense denominated in, the various national currencies of member nations.