U.N. Recommendation On World Economy: Replace The Dollar

(CBS / U.S. Treasury)
A week before President Barack Obama joins the largest developing and industrialized countries' finance ministers and heads of state in London, the U.N. has issued its economic recommendations.

The bottom line: A drastic overhaul will be necessary to pull the world out of the recession, according to the Commission of Experts on Reforms of International Finance and Economic Structures, chaired by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Economics. But that's easier said than done.

At the upcoming summit, the Obama administration is expected to urge more fiscal stimulus programs; China and the U.N. are urging a move away from the dollar; and the European community wants more financial regulation. Even within the European Union, major differences abound.


Read the recommendations of the U.N. economic reform panel chaired by Jospeh Stiglitz.>

Learn more about the commission.


Last week, the current EU President, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek called the Obama administration's programs the "road to hell." And, the U.N.-China proposal to replace the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency may be sidelined at the summit, according to Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

At the U.N. this week, Stiglitz was clear that the U.N. panel believes that regulation must be comprehensive.

"You actually have to do something," he said.

Asked by CBS News about a preferred and realistic timetable for phasing out the dollar, he answered, "My preferred timetable would be that it could begin to be phased in next year. We have a framework which is the SDR, right now, [the currency that the International Monetary Fund uses] and that could be done right away so in that sense we even have an institutional framework." That, in essence, he said, was the China proposal.

Stiglitz added, "It could be done within a year. Realistically, I don't think it will happen that fast. Some of my more cynical friends think that it is only after the economic slowdown moves into a malaise of several years that we will figure out that we have to do something more fundamental – and that would mean after 2013 that the world will be more ready for this."

But, Stiglitz noted, a move away from the dollar does not hurt the U.S. as the premier world economy.

"In fact, I think it is advantageous to the U.S.," he said, "because I think we have been hurt by the trade deficits, which are the corresponding part of the demand for our Treasury bills that are put into reserves."

So, with the world's major economists and world leaders descending on London next week, the G20 is going to get a lot of attention but will it resolve the international crisis and avoid inflation? We'll just have to wait and see.

  • Pamela Falk

    Pamela Falk is CBS News Foreign Affairs Analyst and an international lawyer, based at the United Nations.