UN panel calls for a new global currency to fight financial crisis

UN panel calls for a new global currency to fight financial crisis New York  - A United Nations panel of economists Friday proposed a new global currency reserve that would take over the US dollar-based system used for decades by international banks.

The proposal came on the heels of the controversial call by China's Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan to create a new world currency reserve to replace the US dollar as part of a sweeping overhaul of global finance, which is suffering its worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

China and many developing countries blame the crisis on US mishandling of overextended mortgage loans and investments in them.

"A new global reserve system ... with regular or cyclically adjusted emissions calibrated to the size of reserve accumulations, could contribute to global stability, economic strength and global equity," the panel said in a document released in New York.

The call was issued at the end of a three-day conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Earlier this week, the US said it was open to enlarging the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) currency reserves, but insisted the dollar would remain "the world's dominant reserve currency."

The call comes just days before the world's 20 largest economies (G20) were to meet in London to chart a way out of the global recession.

The UN panel said a new global reserver would be "feasible, non- inflationary and could be easily implemented." It said it would help lessen the difficulties now caused by unbalanced adjustments between surplus and deficit countries.

The 22-member panel is headed by Nobel Economics Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, a frequent critic of past US fiscal policy.

"The nature of this crisis has opened up opportunities for change that I think would not have been conceivable even a few months ago," Stiglitz said on Thursday.

The panel made several recommendations to deal with the financial crisis, which it said requires the cooperation of rich and poor nations together to take strong and effective actions to stimulate their economies.

Stiglitz said there has been a growing consensus among UN members that the US dollar-based financial system is problematic. But he warned that the idea of new global reserve is still a concept that panelists are debating.

He said the current system was "relatively volatile, deflationary, unstable and (had) inequity associated with it."

"Developing countries are lending the United States trillions dollars at almost zero interest rates when they have huge needs themselves," Stiglitz said. "It's indicative of the nature of the problem. It's a net transfer, in a sense, to the US, a form of foreign aid."

The panel, known as the Commission of Experts on Reform of International Finance and Economic Structures, was established by the UN General Assembly last year to deal with the widening economic and financial crisis.

The panel believes that the creation a new global reserve would help poor countries through an improved credit system, built on a system of special drawing rights (SDRs) set up by the International Monetary Fund after World War II.

China's call for a replacement of the US dollar has made the UN proposal for a new currency reserve stronger. Some panelists suggested that the SDRs could be used as a new standard of a global reserve currency. (dpa)

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