On Friday, the Pentagon released an unclassified summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy report. On the same day, Secretary of Defense James Mattis delivered prepared remarks relating to the document.
Reading the summary is illuminating, to say the least, and somewhat disturbing, as it focuses very little on actual defense of the realm and relates much more to offensive military action that might be employed to further certain debatable national interests.
Occasionally, it is actually delusional, as when it refers to consolidating “gains we have made in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.”
At times Mattis’ supplementary “remarks” were more bombastic than reassuring, as when he warned “…those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy: if you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day.”
Flax (Linum usitatissimum1) is among the most ancient of superfoods, with a history of use spanning over 10,000 years. Remains of flaxseed have been found in Stone Age dwellings in Switzerland, and in Egypt, where the ancient Egyptians used it in the manufacture of linen. Flax reached the U.S. in the 1800s with the arrival of European settlers.
Flax can be grown for a nutritional seed harvest, and its fiber is used in the making of linen. The plant grows to about 3 feet tall and has narrow, pale green leaves and small blue flowers.
Once the flower drops off, a seedpod forms in its place. Each seedpod contains anywhere from four to 10 seeds. According to Mother Earth Living,2 a small 4-foot-square plot of flax can provide enough seeds “for a batch of bread” and enough fiber to fashion a small basket.
Thanks to its adaptability, flax can be grown in most parts of the U.S. Ideally, select a plot that gets plenty of sun with fertile, well-draining soil. Flax grows best in cooler weather, so early spring, once the risk of frost has passed, is an ideal time to start your planting.
You’ll need about 1 tablespoon of flaxseed per 10 square feet. The seeds are small, so the easiest way to sow them is to mix them with a small amount of flour, which helps separate them. Scatter the seeds across the surface of the plot, then use a rake to gently mix them into the top half-inch of the soil.
Water gently and keep the soil moist but not soaked until the seeds have germinated, which takes about 10 days. Once they’ve germinated, the plants tend to develop a robust root system and require less frequent watering. The plant matures to a height of about 3 feet. Adding a nitrogen-rich amendment to your soil can boost seed yield; otherwise, fertilizer is generally not needed.
Aside from L. usitatissimum, several other species of flax are also available. For example, perennial flax (L. perenne) grows to a height of just 1 to 2 feet and is hardy in zones 5 to 9. The cultivar “Alba” produces white flowers instead of blue. Golden flax (L. flavum), which is native to Europe, grows to be about 1.5 feet tall and has yellow flowers. It fares best in zone 5.
Will You Harvest Fiber, Seed or Both?
While flax provides you with more than one harvest opportunity, you will need to decide whether you’re going to harvest seeds or the fiber, as the highest quality fiber is obtained before the seeds form. Alternatively, you can settle for a coarser fiber, which will allow you to harvest seeds as well. Mother Earth Living explains:3
“If you wait until the seeds are ripe (about four months after planting), the fiber has become coarse. This difference in the timing of harvest is a major reason why commercial flax farmers produce either fiber or seeds but not both. Again, a hobby grower can compromise.
The fiber from mature plants is too coarse for weaving fine fabrics, but it’s acceptable for making baskets or other simple craft projects. To reap both seeds and fiber, harvest the flax about four months after planting. The leaves on the lower half or two-thirds of the stem will be turning yellow and dropping off.
Most of the seedpods will have turned gold or tan; if you shake them, the seeds will rattle inside. Grasp the stems, a handful at a time, right at ground level and pull them up, roots and all.
Shake the soil off the roots, lay a few handfuls of stems together side by side, and use rubber bands or string to secure them into a bundle. Hang the bundles in a warm place with good air circulation. After a few weeks, when the stalks are stiff and dry, you can thresh out the seeds.”
How to Thresh Flaxseed
To get the seeds out you have to crush the seedpods open, a process known as threshing. While simple, it requires a bit of physical effort. Take a bundle of flax stems you collected and place them in a fabric bag. An old pillowcase will do fine.
Tie the opening shut around the stems and place the bag on a flat surface that will not be damaged by some pounding. Using a block of wood, rock or rubber mallet, beat the pods through the bag. Other strategies include using a rolling pin, or stomping on the bag with a hard-soled shoe.
Once the pods have been crushed open, shake the bag to loosen the seeds, then pour the contents into a bowl. When all the bundles have been threshed, it’s time to sift the seeds from the chaff. A coarse strainer or colander can be helpful.
How to Process Flax Fiber
While processing your own flax fiber can be a rewarding experience, it’s a rather complex, strenuous task and requires some investment in specialized tools. Your climate can also significantly influence the outcome, which is why flax for linen production is grown in areas with a wetter fall climate. Writing for Mother Earth Living, Rita Buchanan, a weaver and spinner, explains the basics:4
“The fibers in the stem of the flax plant form a thin layer between the woody core and the outer skin or epidermis that runs all the way from the roots to the tips. The fibers have already reached their full-length when the flax begins to flower, about two months after planting, but they are still thin, delicate and weak.
From flowering until the death of the plant, the fibers become increasingly thicker and stronger, but also more stiff and brittle … The first step, called retting, involves soaking or wetting the stems for a period of days or weeks to promote bacterial action, which separates the different layers of stem tissues and loosens the fibers.
After retting, the stems are dried again, then crushed between the wooden blades of a tool called a break or brake, which breaks the woody core into short bits that fall away from the mass of fibers.
Finally, the bundles are combed through metal-tined combs called hackles. The result: a smooth bundle of long, straight fibers called line flax and a pile of fluffy, tangled, shorter fibers called tow. The line flax is used to make crisp, glossy fabrics, and the tow is used for everyday goods.”
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
As with most plants, a number of insects and diseases can take their toll. To minimize the risk of plant disease, avoid growing flax in the same area for more than three years in a row. Also avoid growing flax in areas where you’ve previously grown potatoes or legumes to minimize the risk of the fungal disease Rhizoctonia solani. Following are some of the most common pests and plant diseases known to attack flax:5
Flax bollworm — The larvae of the flax bollworm moth feed on the flax flowers and seeds, effectively consuming your harvest. They look like small green inchworms with white stripes. Simply remove them from the plant wherever you find them.
Cutworms — True to their name, cutworms will eat the leaves of your plants. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants to prevent cutworms, and pick off any found on the plants.
Aphids — To dislodge aphids, spray the plants with a strong stream of water. Sticky traps can also be used, and soapy water.
Fusarium wilt — A type of soil fungus, fusarium wilt kills seedlings, and causes mature plants to yellow and wilt. Infected plants need to be uprooted and destroyed (do not compost). Unfortunately, the fungus remains in the soil, so do not plant flax (or other plants known to be affected by fusarium wilt) in the area for at least three years.
Powdery mildew — Another fungal disease, powdery mildew causes the plant to drop its leaves and impacts its ability to produce seeds. Once it gains a foothold, it’s difficult to stop it from spreading. To prevent it, avoid planting your flax in areas that don’t drain well, as the wetness encourages growth of the fungus.
Health Benefits of Flaxseed
Flaxseed is one of the best sources of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega-3 fat. They also contain a diverse mixture of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins E, K, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. All of these are essential to maintaining various functions in your body and supporting good health.
Flaxseed is also a rich source of lignans, a plant compound with antioxidant and estrogen-blocking properties that have been shown to lower your risk of cancer.6 What makes flaxseed great in this respect is that it contains anywhere from 75 to 800 times more lignans compared to other fruits and vegetables.7
In one study8 involving 6,000 female participants, those who consumed flaxseed were 18 percent less likely to develop breast cancer. In another study,9 15 men who ate 30 grams of flaxseed per day had reduced levels of prostate cancer biomarkers, suggesting a lower risk of prostate cancer.
One tablespoon of flaxseed also contains 3 grams of dietary fiber —both soluble (20 to 40 percent) and insoluble (60 to 80 percent). Soluble fiber helps maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and feeds beneficial bacteria in your gut, while insoluble fiber helps maintain digestive health by binding water to your stools, allowing them to pass through your intestines quicker. This can help lower your risk of constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.
How to Use Flaxseed
Flaxseed can add a nutritious boost to just about any meal. For example, you can:
Use flaxseed in place of breadcrumbs in various recipes
Add to smoothies for additional flavor and fiber
As garnish on salad
Add to hummus to modify the taste while adding extra nutrients
Use as an egg replacement for pudding dishes
Enhance the nutritional profile of your soups without changing the flavor
Pour ground flaxseed into your favorite sauces to make them thicker
Mix flaxseed into your yogurt to enhance the flavor and add more nutrients
For all of their benefits, there are instances in which flaxseed are best avoided.10 For example, there have been reports of allergic reactions to flaxseed and flaxseed oil, causing hives, itchy palms, eyes, nausea, vomiting and stomach ache.
Flaxseed can also lower your blood sugar levels to an alarming level, especially when it is mixed with diabetic medication, so be careful if you have diabetes or are prone to hypoglycemia. The high amount of fiber in flaxseed may also increase the frequency of your bowel movements, so be sure to limit your use of flaxseed until you know how they affect your digestion.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to ensure access to fresh, chemical-free food. An annual National Gardening Survey1 finds the proportion of older gardeners is holding steady while younger individuals who enjoy gardening is reaching an all-time high. Container and landscape gardening are also setting new records.
Gardening provides a sensory experience and may help improve your mood.2 A study from the Netherlands suggests gardening may fight stress better than other leisure activities. A study from Norway found those who suffered from depression or bipolar disorder experienced measurable improvements after spending three months gardening six hours a week.3
There are an amazing number and variety of plants you may include in your backyard or container garden. Some plants serve several purposes, such as edible leaves and seeds and beautiful flowers. The amaranth is a wonderful example of a plant you might consider for your flower garden or vegetable garden, as it is an excellent option for either.
History of Amaranth
The Incas used amaranth grain as a prized health food, but you might find the flowers have great ornamental value in a sunny garden bed. Grain amaranth species have been important for several thousand years, and the largest known acreage was grown during the Aztec civilization in the 1400s.4
However, when Cortes and his army entered the Aztec capital they found amaranth was more than mere food. It was used in ceremonial and religious events. Cortes was bent on eliminating pagan rituals, and so ordered fields of amaranth to be burned and strict punishment enforced, including death, for those possessing the grain.5
During the past two centuries, grain amaranth has been grown throughout Mexico, Central America, India, China and Eastern Africa. There is a movement to revive amaranth as a staple crop in Mexico as it has high nutritional value and is able to withstand high temperatures. Although not actually a grain, its nutritional composition is so similar it’s often included with cereal grains.6
The plants are usually bright gold, purple or red and retain their color even after harvest and drying. Research in the U.S. by agronomists began in the 1970s in order to adapt varieties to U.S. climate. Today, a few thousand acres are commercially grown in America, increasing slightly each year since the 1980s.7
Gardeners adding amaranth to their fields today know after one season the plant often returns and sprouts up in other places. The amaranth plant can send thousands of seeds from one parent plant,8 which easily sprout in fertile soil.
Add Color, Flair and Nutrition to Your Garden
The amaranth family has nearly 60 different varieties.9 Some are grown and harvested for food, while others are weeds. The name “love-lies-bleeding” describes one of the ornamental plants, but is only one variety in the Amaranthus genus.
Other varieties, including “fountain plant” or “Joseph’s coat,” are found in ornamental gardens. A load of tassel-shaped flowers either droop or remain erect are usual in the ornamental plant, which may also have edible leaves and seeds. The flowers are often red, but varieties include orange, yellow and green.
The leaves of the plant may be as decorative as the flowers. Some varieties have bronze or purple foliage ranging in height from 20 inches to 5 feet or more. The taller variety should be planted at the back of a border or alongside other tall annual plants. As many varieties of amaranth have edible leaves and seeds, it’s a natural choice for an ornamental vegetable garden.
Another name for a variety of amaranth is pigweed,10 an annual green leafy vegetable that may show up in your garden uninvited. It has served to trap leaf miners and other pests and will shelter ground beetles that prey upon insect pests. Many garden centers carry one or two different types of amaranth, but others may offer several colors and varieties, including:11
Hot Biscuits — Multiple orange upright plumes
Early Splendor — Purple leaves and vivid red flowers.
Elephant Head — Unusually dense flower clusters, narrowing to one trunk-like flower.
Love Lies Bleeding — Deep red flowers on a five-foot tall plant
Green Tails — A trailing type of amaranth doing well in containers or hanging baskets
Growing Healthy Amaranth Plants for a Full Harvest
The seeds of the amaranth plant are very small so it is important your seed bed is filled with fine firm soil.12 As demonstrated in the video, consider using 30 percent perlite,13 30 percent compost and 30 percent peat moss to start your seedlings. Sow a handful in a pot and water the soil lightly, being sure you don’t drown the seeds.
Although the seeds can be planted directly into your flower garden, starting the seedlings in a pot allows you to plant the flowers spaced approximately 10 inches apart after the seedlings have emerged from the soil. It may take up to two weeks for the new plants to have two to four leaves and be ready to be transplanted.
You can easily pull seedlings from the pot and plant them in a raised bed, in your flower garden or in another pot. The plants appreciate plenty of organic material, but don’t otherwise require fertilization. Optimally, they appreciate well-drained soil to reduce the risk of fungus.
Amaranth prefers warm weather and is susceptible to frost.14 When starting your seeds outdoors, be sure the soil has begun to warm and the chance of frost is over. Amaranth plants are very drought tolerant, and while they don’t like excessive irrigation, they appreciate consistent watering.15
The biggest pest affecting the plant are deer. They often browse the foliage and eat the seeds as readily as any other vegetable. Unfortunately, they’re only deterred by fencing.16 Other pests such as cutworms, aphids and leaf miners may also damage the leaves. An effective method of controlling them is to cover the bed with a fine screen or nylon mesh netting.17
Harvesting Leaves and Seeds
When growing plants to harvest the leaves, in your vegetable garden, you may start to harvest 40 days after planting. However, if your intent is growing for the seeds and the flowers in an ornamental garden, you’ll want to wait until the end of the growing season.
As shown in the video above, after 40 days you can clip the top of the plant and additional stems will appear on each side, making the plant bushier and lower to the ground. The plant will continue to grow until the first hard frost hits.
You can begin to harvest seeds several weeks before the first frost, usually three months after planting. The simplest way to determine if seeds are ready is to gently shake or rub the flower heads between your hands. When the seeds easily fall out, it’s an indication they are ready for harvest.
If you see small birds gathered around the plants, it’s likely they are eating seeds — another indication they are ready for harvest. Once ready, the easiest way to gather seed outside is to bend the plant over a bowl and rub the seed head between your hands.18 This is best done in dry weather and when wearing gloves to protect your hands.
Another option is to cut the flower heads and hang the plants upside down to dry indoors. Some find the seeds naturally fall out of the flower head, dropping to a receptacle you have below the plant. However, others find the plants may become extremely brittle, and it is then difficult to separate the seed from the chaff when dried inside.
If you are removing the seeds after drying indoors, remember to wear gloves to protect your hands. There are several ways to separate the seeds from the seed heads, including placing the seed heads between two pieces of cloth and stepping on them without shoes or placing the seed heads inside a paper bag and beating them together.19
Storing Seeds for the Winter Months
Once harvested, the leaves will last in your refrigerator about as long as spinach does. The seed may be stored in an airtight glass container so you can use the grain throughout the winter months. If you didn’t grow your own, amaranth seeds are available year-round, but the leaves are seasonal. Harvesting seeds is labor intensive, so if you’re purchasing from a market it will be relatively expensive.
Some manufacturers grind the grain into flour, which has more protein than most other flowers and higher in the amino acid lysine. The flower has a light peppery taste and is favored in savory breads.
If you’re purchasing at the store, the seed should be well wrapped in airtight packages. Like most other seeds, amaranth contain some fat and is best stored in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent them from going rancid.20
Remarkable Nutrition Packed in the Leaves and Seeds of Amaranth
Technically not a grain but a seed,21 amaranth is gluten-free and pale ivory with up to 17 percent protein. It is high in lysine, an essential amino acid normally low in cereal crops.
The protein content found in amaranth grain is comparable to milk, but more easily digested. The primary proteins are albumin and globulins, which, in comparison with the prolamins in wheat, are more soluble and digestible.
The grain is high in fiber and has been associated with a reduction in cholesterol in laboratory animals. The grain is also higher in minerals, such as calcium, iron, phosphorus and carotenoids, than most vegetables.
One cup contains 15 milligrams (mg) of iron and 18 mg of fiber; 105 percent of the daily value per serving of manganese is found in the seed. Amaranth is also the only grain with documented vitamin C content.22
Cooking the Seeds for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Once cooked with water, amaranth has a slightly nutty flavor and a porridge consistency. However, it can also be roasted, popped, boiled or added to other dishes, which makes it a versatile, nutrition-packed item in your pantry.23
To use it as breakfast cereal, cook to a porridge-like consistency using a ratio of 1 1/2 cups of liquid to a one-half cup of amaranth seed. Bring the liquid and amaranth to a boil, reduce and simmer uncovered until the water is absorbed. If it’s overcooked, it may become gummy and congeal, so serve it immediately. Consider adding nuts, cinnamon or berries.
It might be cooked with other grains, such as brown rice. Made this way, it does not become as sticky but adds a nutty sweetness to the dish. Use a ratio of one-fourth cup of amaranth to three-fourths cup of another grain. A couple of tablespoons may also be added to soups and stews as a power-packed thickener.
Like corn seeds, amaranth may be popped or puffed.24 You want to prevent steam build up and use a dry pot, so don’t put a lid on it. Unfortunately, some seeds may jump out while cooking so it’s a good idea to watch the seeds and protect your eyes from an errant seed.
Try using a high-sided pot to prevent too many seeds from shooting out. It’s also important to find the perfect temperature on your stove so the seeds don’t burn. If the pot is too hot or not hot enough they will burn but not pop.25 You may have to throw out the first batch or two until you get it right.
Shake the pot often to get the seeds moving to the hotspots of the pot and to help them pop evenly without the pop ones getting burned. Preheat your pot in order to prevent burning the seeds. Popped amaranth can be eaten as is or added to homemade granola, granola bars and salads.26
Easy Amaranth Recipes
You may find incorporating amaranth into your diet challenging if you don’t enjoy porridge-style breakfast cereal. However, the recipes below are sure to tempt your palate and may help spark creativity in your kitchen.
Mexican Ranchero Amaranth Stew courtesy of Making Thyme for Health27
1 cup amaranth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 diced yellow onion
3 minced garlic cloves
1 diced jalapeno pepper
2 diced bell peppers
3 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne to your taste
15 ounces soaked black beans
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 juiced lime
Rinse your amaranth seeds using a fine sieve so you don’t lose any. Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the next three ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and seasonings (cumin, chili powder and cayenne) stirring together.
Add the vegetable broth and the tomatoes with their juices. Bring to a low boil and cook for 15 minutes so that it thickens slightly.
Add the amaranth and continue to cook for another 20 minutes. Add the black beans, chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime and stir together.
Cook until everything is heated. Serve garnished with avocado and chopped cilantro.
Tabbouleh-Style Amaranth Salad courtesy of Yummly28
1 1/2 cups cold water
1/2 cup uncooked whole-grain amaranth
2 cups diced unpeeled English cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled
Lemon wedges (optional)
Bring 1 1/2 cups cold water and amaranth to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is almost absorbed (it will have the appearance of mush).
While amaranth cooks, combine cucumber and the next 11 ingredients in a large bowl.
Place amaranth in a sieve, and rinse under cold running water until room temperature; drain well, pressing with the back of a spoon.
Add to cucumber mixture; toss to blend. Add cheese; toss gently. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.
Published on Oct 11, 2018
RR will not hand over the subpoenas and will not testify in front of congress. Judicial Watch has court date to get the emails from the Clinton server. US arrests a Chinese spy has been stealing the US secrets. Israel tells Russia they want the Golan Heights. Coalition forces (deep state) is sending military equipment to the Kurdish area. Q hints a timeline.
Blind faith in the U.S. dollar is perhaps one of the most crippling disabilities economists have in gauging our economic future. Historically speaking, fiat currencies are essentially animals with very short lives, and world reserve currencies are even more prone to an early death. But, for some reason, the notion that the dollar is vulnerable at all to the same fate is deemed ridiculous by the mainstream.
This delusion has also recently bled into parts of the alternative economic movement, with some analysts hoping that the Trump Administration will somehow reverse several decades of central bank sabotage in only four to eight years. However, this thinking requires a person to completely ignore the prevailing trend.
Years before there was ever an inkling of a trade war, multiple nations were establishing bilateral agreements that would cut the dollar out of trade. China has been a leader in this effort, despite it being one of the largest buyers of U.S. Treasury debt and dollar reserves since the 2008 crash. In the past few years, these bilateral deals have been growing in scope, starting small and then expanding into massive agreements on raw commodities. China and Russia are a perfect example of the de-dollarization trend, with the two nations forming a trade alliance on natural gas as far back as 2014. That agreement, which is expected to start boosting imports to China this year, removes the need for dollars as a reserve mechanism for international purchases.
Russia and parts of Europe, including Germany, are also growing closer in terms of trade ties. With Germany and Russia entering into the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline deal despite condemnations from the Trump Administration, we can see a clear progression of nations moving away from the U.S. and the dollar, and into a “basket of currencies”.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry has suggested that sanctions are possible over the Nordstream project, but trade war policies only seem to be hastening the international departure from the U.S. as the center of trade influence. American sanctions on Iranian oil support this argument, as China, Russia and much of Europe are working together to sidestep U.S. restrictions on Iranian crude.
China has even instituted its own petroyuan market, and the first shipments of oil from the Middle East to China paid for through a petroyuan contract occurred in August of this year. Mainstream economists like to point out the small portion of the global oil market that the petroyuan represents, but they seem to have missed the bigger picture entirely. The point is, now an alternative to the petrodollar exists where none existed before. And this is the crux of the issue that needs to be examined: The trend towards alternatives.
Beyond the shift away from the U.S. dollar as a global reserve, there is a new matter of alternative international payment systems. SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) is a global network of “financial messages” between major banks, including central banks. Transactions are recorded through the SWIFT network, which allows fast confirmation of “messages” and updates of accounts across the world.
Originally founded in Brussels, for decades SWIFT has been the only such banking network with global capacity, and until recently the primary data centers have been in the U.S. and the Netherlands.
The U.S. government has exploited extensive economic control using influence on SWIFT, including mass surveillance of international financial transactions and denying countries like Iran access to SWIFT through sanctions. In the past, the U.S. has seized funds being transferred through SWIFT between banks outside of U.S. borders, including entirely legal transactions, indicating that the U.S. has overt control over the system. The world reserve status of the dollar, combined with U.S. influence over the most important tool in international banking transactions, has solidified U.S. fiscal dominance for many years.
But the dollar’s reign is quickly coming to an end, as global banks like the IMF seek to centralize monetary authority under a single world structure. The great illusion being perpetrated is that the “multi-polar world order” that is arising is somehow “anti-globalist”. This is simply not the case. So what is actually happening? The world is getting smaller as everyone EXCEPT the U.S. is consolidating economically. This includes alternatives to SWIFT.
Russia dumps U.S. Treasuries but maintains close ties to the IMF and BIS, calling for a world currency system under the IMF’s control. China does the same, increasing ties to the IMF through its SDR basket system, while cutting its ties to the dollar one by one. Europe is embracing closer trade with both Russia and China, working to defy U.S. sanctions.
Now, all of these nations are building new SWIFT-like networks in order to cut the U.S. out of the loop. In other words, the U.S. is becoming the bumbling villain of our global soap opera, and through its own hubris, it is setting the stage for its own destruction. The U.S. is acting as a catalyst, helping global banks by frightening enemies and allies into further centralization. At least, that is the narrative I suspect future historians will repeat.
As part of the effort to undermine U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil, the EU has established a program to construct a new SWIFT system outside of U.S. influence. It is a model that Russia, China and Iran have signed on to, and news that have gone mostly ignored by the mainstream. The Wall Street Journalbegrudgingly reported on the developmentbut dismissed it as ineffective in thwarting U.S. sanctions. And this seems to be the consensus among the MSM – to shrug off or ignore the implications of an alternative SWIFT.
Dollar bias rears its ugly head once again, and the dangers of this kind of denial are many. The dollar can be, and is being, bypassed through bilateral trade deals. U.S. dominance of oil markets is being bypassed through alternative petro-contracts. And now, U.S. control of financial networks is being bypassed through alternative SWIFT programs. The only thread that is holding the dollar and, by extension, the U.S. economy together is the fact that these alternatives are not widespread yet. But this will inevitably change.
So, the question is – When will this change?
I believe the pace of the trade war will dictate the pace of the de-dollarization shift. The more aggressive that tariffs become between the U.S. and the group of China, Europe and Russia, the faster that already existing alternative systems will be implemented. Currently, the speed of the U.S.-China conflict suggests a move away from the dollar and into an international basket of currencies by the end of 2020, with the process taking approximately another decade to become concrete.
With current tariffs encompassing at least half of Chinese trade, and the other half under threat if China retaliates in any way, I believe that it is only a matter of months before China uses its own dollar and treasury reserves as a weapon against the U.S. But do not expect Europe to come to the aid of America if this happens. To me, it seems to be clear from the EU’s recent behavior that they plan to remain neutral, at the very least, during escalation, if not fully side with China and Russia out of economic necessity.
Preparing for this event requires as much financial independence as possible. This means tangible alternatives to the dollar, like precious metals, and localized economies based on barter and trade. Once the dollar loses world reserve status, the transfer of price inflation into the U.S. will be immense. Dollars held overseas will come flooding back into the country, as they will no longer be needed for international exchange of goods and resources. This switch could occur very quickly, like an avalanche.
Do not expect much of a warning before foreign creditors dump dollar-based assets, and do not expect a large window of time before the negative effects are visible on Main Street.
Brandon Smith has been an alternative economic and geopolitical analyst since 2006 and is the founder of Alt-Market.com.
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