SWIFT, a system that facilitates cross-border payments between 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries worldwide cut several Iranian banks, including the country’s central bank, off from its services on Monday. The move came as a result of US pressure and was described by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as “the right decision to protect the integrity of the international financial system.”
Max Keiser told RT that in pushing a hard line on Iran, the US will only force other countries to come up with alternatives, and stockpile gold to lessen their dependence on the almighty US dollar.
Russia has already drastically expanded its gold stockpile in recent years, as relations between Washington and Moscow have soured. As the Trump administration geared up to impose new sanctions on Moscow in August, the Russian government increased its holdings to over $83 billion, while simultaneously reducing its holdings of US debt from $96 billion in March to just $14.9 billion in May.
Whatever the long-term implications for the US dollar, Iran now faces a more drastic short-term problem. Without SWIFT access, the country cannot be paid for exports or pay for imports. With an economy reeling from US sanctions – applied in 19 rounds since President Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or Iran deal, in May – Tehran might have to think outside the box to ensure its economic survival.
“Iran needs to get smart and start hoarding Gold and Bitcoin if it wants to avoid the worst of the fallout,” Keiser told RT. “It is already, smartly, pursuing bilateral energy deals outside of the $USD, but it needs to add value to its currency with reserves of Gold and Bitcoin.”
“The world is anxious to stop this madness,” said Keiser, who sees gold and cryptocurrency as the way forward for the “post $USD hegemony.”
In the meantime, EU leaders fighting to save the JCPOA enacted a ‘blocking’ law in August, prohibiting firms operating in the bloc from complying with the US sanctions. In siding with Washington, SWIFT may face penalties from Brussels for violating this law.
The Europeans have been working on an alternate payments system to ensure trade with Iran can continue to flow, but any viable system is still months away at least.
“Alternatives to SWIFT are relatively easy to create,” Keiser added. “The only thing stopping this from happening now is inertia.”