Most of the attention regarding the decline of the U.S. dollar as a global reserve currency has been focused on Russia and China and their vast accumulations of gold. Neither the Russian ruble nor the Chinese yuan is ready to perform a reserve currency role due to the lack of rule of law and absence of a mature government bond market.

Still, their gold could be combined with a new encrypted digital SDR-linked instrument, which would serve as a unit of account in direct trade among a club of countries that might include Russia, China, India, Turkey, Iran and many others. This article is a clear sign that such improvised and voluntary arrangements are emerging even without a new Bretton Woods-style conference.

Russia and India have agreed to begin trading with India buying Russian weapons systems and paying for them in Russian rubles. India might have accumulated the rubles from prior sales to Russia, or Russian banks might lend them rubles to facilitate the arms purchase. Either way, there are no dollars involved.

Once trading relationships like this get started, they tend to grow and reinforce themselves as the two nations look for ways to invest or spend the ruble balances. This deal by itself does not mean the end of the dollar. But it is a straw in the wind of emerging markets finding new ways to trade with and finance each other without being subject to dollar hegemony.

Western investors can get ahead of these trends by diversifying some dollar balances into gold, which has always been money and good everywhere in the world.

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