Iran Crisis: Another War for Oil, Bourse and the US Dollar?

Update February 27, 2006: Related Post -”Commentary: DailyKos on the Iranian Bourse, Oil, Euro and Dollars

Introduction to the US Dollars/Oil Bourse Conspiracy

Iran is scheduled in March to launch an oil exchange with the currency used for transaction being Euros as opposed to US dollars, such as in the two main oil bourse, International Petroleum Exchange (IPE) in London and the NYTMEX in New York.

This has fueled (no pun intended) speculation of the real cause of the Iranian crisis. The Iraq War has been criticized as a “War for Oil”. And now, as a second act, there are folks from Daily Kos to Asia Times saying the same of the Iran Crisis. The most aggressive promoter of this view appears to be from Krassimir Petrov:

The economic essence of this [post Bretton Woods] arrangement was that the dollar was now backed by oil. As long as that was the case, the world had to accumulate increasing amounts of dollars, because they needed those dollars to buy oil. As long as the dollar was the only acceptable payment for oil, its dominance in the world was assured, and the American Empire could continue to tax the rest of the world. If, for any reason, the dollar lost its oil backing, the American Empire would cease to exist. Thus, Imperial survival dictated that oil be sold only for dollars.

The Iranian government has finally developed the ultimate “nuclear” weapon that can swiftly destroy the financial system underpinning the American Empire. That weapon is the Iranian Oil Bourse slated to open in March 2006.

Prior to the Iraq War, Saddam Hussein switched the currency of choice for oil transaction from US dollars to Euros. Many saw the Iraq War as a conspiracy to stop and discourage the currency switch as the motivation for the Iraq War and are now predicting the same for Iran nuclear crisis. Indeed, a quick Google search will present a whole list of sites supporting this view.

Economists Rebuttal

Both economists Tyler Cowen and James Hamilton, in their respective blogs, counter such claims of a US collapse as simplistic view of economics.

Here below are excerpts from James Hamilton’s view on the Bourse issue:

On Dollar Assets and Oil Transactions

[Even] if the oil were purchased with dollars drawn on a U.S. bank, there is no reason at all that the seller needs to retain the proceeds in that form. Those selling oil could convert those dollars back to euros or Japanese yen or whatever their hearts desired, and likewise could convert euros obtained through sales on an Iranian bourse back into dollars, if they wished. What ultimately determines the demand for dollars is not the unit of account for the transaction, but rather the desired asset holdings of those who are accumulating the wealth.

On “US Dollars ‘Backed by Oil’”

And the notion that the U.S. dollar is currently “backed by oil” is so nonsensical that it is difficult even to fathom what that phrase is intended to convey….[If] you surrender dollars on any given day in January 2006, how much oil are you going to get back? It varies literally by the minute, and the rate at which dollars get exchanged for oil has nothing to do with the promises made by any government and everything to do with market fluctuations in supply and demand.

As the date draws closer to March 2006, we should expect the Iranian Oil Bourse conspiracy to grow even louder and to gain an increasingly foothold in the imagination of the many. However, both Tyler Cowen and James Hamilton seemed to have taken a very clear counter against such claims as simplistic and implausible.

On the true nature of the Iran crisis, it is difficult to tell. StrategyUnit last post attempt to unravel this enigma in the context of Iraq, but StratFor’s analysis seems to be the most accurate (or at least plausible) so far:

If the Iranians are seen as getting too close to a weapon, either the United States or Israel will take them out, and there is an outside chance that the facilities could not be taken out with a high degree of assurance unless nukes are used. In the past, our view was that the Iranians would move carefully in using the nukes to gain leverage against the United States. That is no longer clear. Their focus now seems to be not on their traditional diplomacy, but on a more radical, intra-Islamic diplomacy. That means that they might welcome a (survivable) attack by Israel or the United States. It would burnish Iran’s credentials as the true martyr and fighter of Islam.

Meanwhile, the Iranians appear to be reaching out to the Sunnis on a number of levels. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of a radical Shiite group in Iraq with ties to Iran, visited Saudi Arabia recently. There are contacts between radical Shia and Sunnis in Lebanon as well. The Iranians appear to be engaged in an attempt to create the kind of coalition in the Muslim world that al Qaeda failed to create. From Tehran’s point of view, if they get a deliverable nuclear device, that’s great — but if they are attacked by Israel or the United States, that’s not a bad outcome either.

In short, the diplomacy that Iran practiced from the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war until after the U.S. invasion of Iraq appears to be ended. Iran is making a play for ownership of revolutionary Islamism on behalf of itself and the Shia. Thus, Tehran will continue to make provocative moves, while hoping to avoid counterstrikes. On the other hand, if there are counterstrikes, the Iranians will probably be able to live with that as well.

(Source: George Friedman , Iran’s Redefined Strategy”, Strategic Forcasting: Geopolitical Intelligence Report, 17 January 2006.)
Emphasis Mine.



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13 responses to “Iran Crisis: Another War for Oil, Bourse and the US Dollar?”

  1. Jim

    Those selling oil could convert those dollars back to euros or Japanese yen or whatever their hearts desired

    But the point is the (Iran) bourse would not require dollars, so if a country elected to use the euro then no dollars would be involved. Countries only covet the dollar as their ‘desired asset holding’ because it is REQUIRED to buy oil.

    …and likewise could convert euros obtained through sales on an Iranian bourse back into dollars, if they wished

    Why would any country wish to do this?? Once the hegemony of the OilDollar is broken by an alternative (Euro) marketplace for oil, there would be no point/desire for countries to have their ‘asset holding’ in dollars.

  2. Jim

    What is the conspiracy? It is economics, but anyway the Iranian Bourse will likely not come into existence as the US Military will step in before March 2006.

  3. IJ

    “the Iranian Bourse will likely not come into existence as the US Military will step in before March 2006.”

    The priority of the Russian chairmanship of the G8 this year is the security of energy. President Putin hasn’t much time to sort things out.

  4. Anad

    All other things being equal, I would tend to agree with Hamilton and Cohen.

    Of course, if all things remained equal , economics could be predicted with a univariate model. The reason why complex regression modeling is used is because all other potential variables (confounders and effect modifiers) must be accounted for.

    Simply put, while I have not read their entire reports, nothing being discussed by proponents of the Iranian bourse as a non-event consider other important dimensions of the argument.

    For example, perception is everything, and what about the effect of the trade and account deficits. How will the continuing loss of the Iraq war and the growing domestic crises of the Bush regime affect perception of the dollar. What about the floating renminbi, and the move to clean reserves of USDs?

    All these could influence those who wish to move away from the dollar, and as Jim says above–why bother converting the Euro back in the first place if the only reason for its use is to purchase oil? How many other countries in OPEC might follow suit? What about Nigeria and Venezuela?

    While it seems unlikely that this event alone would trigger a crash, or be the sole reason for bombing Iran, it is a reason. Of course, having to extend the debt again and discontinuing publication of the M3 data in Feb and March doesn’t exactly discourage the formulation of conspiracy, or at least pessimistic response.

  5. StrategyUnit

    Anan, You’re right about perceptions, esp. as something as volatile as the world of finance.

    In the large view, there is simply no reason now for the USD to be the dominating currency, just like neither Russia nor the US dominate world affairs seemingly single-handedly anymore.

    I think the point to take away from my post, as well as from Hamilton and Cowen, is that we wont see any immediate disaster and such comparison of the bourse as the “ultimate WMD” as beyond reason.

    If war comes March, it will not be because of the bourse.

  6. Jim

    …there is simply no reason now for the USD to be the dominating currency

    The US is/has been living beyond its means (with its current public debt of over $8,174 Trillion USD – see, and the rest of the world has been financing that. The removal of the US Petrodollar hegemony would not allow the US to continue in this manner (i.e not addressing its public debt). Other countries requirement for petrodollars maintain the dollars strength, not the US (it has a massive negative balance of exports)

    For an opinion as to the REAL reason (oil reserve currency) behind the Iraq war, see

    I believe that the upcoming war will be due to the threat of the Iranian Bourse. The nuclear issue is a smokescreen – see

    Which came first the Iraqi Chicken (Iraq Oil sales reverted back to USD) or the Iraqi Egg (Bringing US ‘democracy’). Does it matter, they are both there now, while the virtual chicken (Iraq WMD’s) & the virtual egg (Iraq Oil Sales in Euros), are not.

    The US will get its come uppance.

  7. Robert Manke

    all this foolishness points up the urgency of pushing ahead with ITER, the developement of commercially available fusion power. I have the understanding that we can mine its fuel from ocean water and have heard that the fuel, Deuterium and Tritium are possibly concentrated on the lunar surface. We need to get our species focused on peaceful uses of our resources and away from all this madness over non renewable environmentally destructive oil.

  8. Alain Lavoie

    “US Dollars ‘Backed by Oil’”

    Oil prices do varies by the minute but it is still priced in US. All other currencies are then priced against the US and each other. So a devaluation of the US dollars will not affect oil prices (IN USD). And as long as you can only buy oil using USD, you’ll have high demand for that currency keeping it’s value againt other currencies. It’s not like the Dollar is backed by Gold or a strong US Economy after all!

    Since 1995, US monetary inflation exploded upwards to staggering rates not witnessed since the 1970s. What do you think that does to the Dollar. It inflates it, and decreases the reserve values of countries holding large amounts of it – Japan, China, Saudies. They are not happy about the frivolous Greenspan spending mania.

  9. andy

    “As the date draws closer to March 2006, we should expect the Iranian Oil Bourse conspiracy to grow even louder”

    That would be nice. Will we be seeing a press conference at the white house where a journalist actually asks about the proposed oil bourse?

    Conspiracy? No, just a discussion: will the iranian oil bourse affect the petrodollar? Is the dollar the reserve currency of choice because of oil sales in dollars and a traditional view of america as a strong economy?

    Of course you can move your money in and out of various holdings, but why hold the currency of a nation with such precarious imbalances? Why hold a currency when you cannot be confident of the quality of it, with no M3 for you to know the real rate of inflation.

    Dismissing the petroeuro bourse as a non-event could be viewed as a conspiracy too. Confidence is everything, the merest hint from the US administration that this is a worry, to even acknowldege it is a factor could cause a panic.

  10. Ams alzidgali

    I believe the cabal has no other option except to prepare the USA to new wars each time it faces $ evaporation, the reason is very simple, the $ is printed by the thin air value, it has no value at all, the whole world being cheated inculding the great American People by the Federal Reserve system, it is neither Fed nor it its reserve. The earlier we all consentrate our effort to get rid of this criminal org the faster America recover, and the sooner it require no more wars. Because USA is very rich in every thing it is her system robbing her. Do you know sir if whole American pay back their loan tomorrow, there will be no money left in the market for circulation, thats why some economist believe the perfect and clean $ is the fake $, because it does not require any commitment in paying the debt, the real $ is a montized dollar :please read the facinating story of American Dollar with it its prosperaty, and please let every one know how this world being cheated b12 cabal bankers, enough is enough wake up America.
    NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) – The dollar weakened on Wednesday after a Treasury Department report showed that net capital inflows into the United States in January failed to cover that month’s record trade deficit.
    Now I would like u to read this historical event yr teacher did not teach you, u will be surprise to find out as yr terror is synthetic yr financial crises and economy is synthetic too, please lear from the History
    I found this story amasing, it worth reading and hopefully should be circulated to the max. The world should not live in the 21st century with monetised money

    Read this amazing historical story your teachers never taught you….
    (Much of the following historical material is taken from a radio address given a half century ago by the late Congressman Charles G. Binderup, of Nebraska, and compiled by Mrs. Lucie Boulrice, 1133 Liberty, Springfield, MA 01104. For more information, you may write or call her at (413) 737-3080.

    How America created its own money in 1750

    Benjamin Franklin tells what made New England prosperous


    Colonies were more prosperous than the home country
    Before the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the war that followed, the colonized part of what is today the United States of America was a Crown possession of England. It was called New England, and was made up of 13 colonies, which became the original states of the great Republic.
    In 1750, this New England was very prosperous. Benjamin Franklin wrote: “There was abundance in the Colonies, and peace reigned on every border. It was difficult, even impossible, to find a happier and more prosperous nation on all the surface of the globe. Comfort prevailed in every home. The people, in general, kept the highest moral standards, and education was widely spread.”
    When Franklin went over to England to represent the interests of the Colonies, he saw a completely different situation; the working population of the home country was gnawed by hunger and plagued by inescapable poverty. “The streets are covered with beggars and tramps,” he wrote. He asked his English friends how England, with all its wealth, could have so much poverty among its working classes. His friends replied that England was prey to a terrible condition; it had too many workers! The rich said they were already overburdened with taxes, and could not pay more to relieve the needs and poverty of this great mass of workers. Several rich Englishmen of that time actually believed what economist Thomas Malthus later wrote, that wars and epidemic disease were necessary to rid the country from “manpower surpluses.”
    People in London asked Franklin how the American Colonies managed to collect enough money to support their poorhouses, and how they could overcome this plague of unemployment and pauperism.

    Thanks to debt-free money issued by the colonial governments
    Franklin replied; “We have no poorhouses in the Colonies, and if we had some, there would be no one to put in them, since in the Colonies there is not a single unemployed person, not a beggar nor a tramp.”
    His friends could not believe their ears, or understand how this could be. They knew when the English poorhouses and jails became too cluttered, England shipped the wretched inmates like cattle, to be dumped on the quays of the Colonies if they survived the filth and privations of the sea voyage. (In those days English debtors went to jail if they could not pay their debts, and few escaped, since in jail they could not earn money.)
    Franklin’s acquaintences, in view of all this, asked him how he could explain the remarkable prosperity of the New England Colonies.
    Franklin told them: “Why, that is simple! In the Colonies, we issue our own paper money. It’s called ‘Colonial Scrip.’ We issue it to pay the government’s approved expenses and charities. We make sure it’s issued in proper proportion to make the goods pass easily from the producers to the consumers. In other words, we make sure there is always adequate money in circulation for the needs of the economy.
    “In this manner, by creating ourselves our own paper money, we control its purchasing power, and we have no interest to pay, to anyone. You see, a legitimate government can both spend and lend money into circulation, while banks can only lend significant amounts of their promissory bank notes, for they can neither give away nor spend but a tiny fraction of the money the people need. Thus, when your bankers here in England place money in circulation, there is always a debt principal to be returned and usury to be paid. The result is that you have always too little credit in circulation to give the workers full employment. You do not have too many workers, you have too little money in circulation, and that which circulates, all bears the endless burden of unpayable debt and usury.”

    English Bankers impose poverty on the Colonies
    Franklin should not have been so free with his advice, which soon came to the attention of the powerful English Bankers. They quickly used their influence to have the British Parliament pass a law that prohibited the Colonies from using their Colonial Scrip money. The new law ordered them to use only credit redeemable in gold and silver coins that were provided in insufficient quantity by the banks of England. And so began in America the plague of debt-based money, which has ever since brought as many hardships to the American people, as it has to Europeans.
    The first law regulating Colonial money was passed by the British Parliament 1751, then expanded by a more restrictive law in 1763.
    Franklin reported that only one year after implementation of the prohibition on Colonial Scrip, the streets of the Colonies were filled with unemployed and beggars, just like those he had seen in England, because there was not enough money to pay for their goods and work. The English Banker’s new laws had reduced the circulating medium by half.
    Franklin added that this was “the original and true cause of the American Revolution;” and not the tax on tea or the Stamp Act, as has been taught our children for generations in “history” books. The Financiers (bankers) of every generation manage to have removed from school books any information that can throw light on their own schemes and fraudulent actions that protect their power over the people.
    Franklin, one of the chief architects of American independence, put it clearly: “The Colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters had it not been for the poverty created by the bad influence of the English Bankers on the Parliament, which has caused in the Colonies hatred of England and the Revolutionary War.”
    Other great statesmen of that era, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Jackson confirmed this point of view held by Franklin; and later by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren. Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy both issued sovereign money, James Garfield tried, and all three died in office.
    A remarkably honest English historian, John Twells, speaking of the money of the Colonies, their Colonial Scrip, wrote: “It was the monetary system under which America’s Colonies flourished to such an extent that Edmund Burke was able to write about them: ‘Nothing in the history of the world resembles their progress. It was a sound and beneficial system, and its effects led to the happiness of the people.’ ”
    John Twells added: “In a bad hour, the British Parliament took away from America its own scrip money, forbade any further issue of such bills of credit, these bills ceasing to be legal tender, and ordered that all taxes should be paid in British coins. Consider now the consequences: this restriction of the medium of exchange paralyzed all the industrial energies of the people. Ruin took place in these once flourishing Colonies; most rigorous distress visited every family and every business, discontent became desperation, and reached a point, to use the words of Dr. Johnson, when human nature rises up and asserts its rights.”
    Another historical writer, Peter Cooper, expressed himself along the same lines. After saying how Franklin had explained to members of Parliament the reason for the prosperity of the Colonies, Cooper wrote: “After Franklin gave explanations on the true cause of the prosperity of the Colonies, the Parliament enacted laws forbidding the use of this money in the payment of taxes. This decree, clearly in the interest of the British bankers who stood behind the Crown, brought so many drawbacks and so much poverty to the people that it was the main cause of the Revolution. The supression of the Colonial money was a much more important reason for the general uprising than the Tea and Stamp Acts.”

    DANGER! The Scrip of the Bankers has Taken over America
    Today, in America as well as in Europe, we are under the regime of the Scrip of the Bankers instead of the scrip of the sovereign nations. Hence the enormous public debts, everlasting interest (usury) charges, taxes that plunder purchasing power and rob the production of the people, with the result being more and more consolidation of the financial dictatorship.

    Where shall we start to correct the fraud of the bankers?
    The first step in the monetary reform being advocated by more and more action groups of educated and intelligent people is precisely the replacement of the banks’ debt money by debt-free money issued by the Constitutionally mandated sovereign government of the nation, the United States Congress, and elsewhere, the British Parliament, and similar governments. It is the duty of those governments to serve and protect their people, not allow financial robber barons to destroy them.

    We must end the dictatorship of the moneyed interests!
    It will soon become clear to you that we need to abolish the Federal Reserve Banking System as a privately owned central bank controlled partly by foreign interests. Check clearing must be taken over by the U. S. Treasury Department, and the commercial banks of our system must no longer be permitted to create and issue debt money by fractional reserve deposit expansion. A debt money system never provides money to pay interest, so the banks ultimately acquire all the People’s property by foreclosure, as Thomas Jefferson said they would. Learn more. Study this go-oaktree site until you begin to grasp the essentials of our money problem. Learn the truth, before it is too late. Find out how you can help yourself and your nation. Download these flyers and circulate them via copy machines to friends who do not have Internet access.$100 FOR 4 CENTS!That’s whayst the Fed pa.

    “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

  11. Ams alzidgali

    Please see the national debt clock:

    you will come to know Iran is a red haring created to make every one busy, just look at the Millions borrowed in one single day, The new Or lien is anther disaster which this great nations leader ignoring its needs, there r people until now not counted for. American living below the poverty line reached 37 millions, and we want to take prosperity to Afghanistan and Iraq, is that the prosperity of destruction like New Or lien or Iraq?
    In short America is in economical suicidal mission read this article please:

    The only thing left to junta is to create more wars, create new enemies, so the people will be frighten and busy with their new synthetic enemy as we all remember the big lies of 9 11. please watch 9 11 on trails and proven guilty:

    The question the scholars asking the American Junta is : 9 11 is an inside job ( inside a demolition ) we can prove that scientifically, mathematically and physically, can the government prove it is not? Please see and vote for the scholars to keep Americ safe:

    Yr vote very important to keep America safe.

  12. abm

    do you think the war delayed cos the opening of iranian borouses deladyed too?

  13. abm

    Stop Bush before he attacks Iran

    Thanks for some friends in letting me know the money master, it is an eye openning event,it has reminded me of little old story of wolf in a sheep dress while telling and warinning the sheep how the FOX is dangerous TO THE SHEEP, and the SHEEP did beilve that the FOX is No one enemy. Thats why we had all major wars, from our civil war to WWI , WWII , the Korean War, the cold wars, the Gulf wars,
    their own word:
    (“Never in her history has Israel had the luxury of having 500,000 foreigners fight her wars for her, until now.” –Abba Eban, Foreign Minister to Israel, in reference to the 1st Gulf War. )

    lately the IRAQ war, and as the WOLF is so generous we planned more wars, like the coming Iran war,Syria, Labnon, Saudi Arab, Egypet, yr futur thinking and the sky is the limit.
    I could not open the money master,WITH OUT the Google video player, I will add the address bar so it will help:

    Historical shocking facts we r not allowed to know, c & let be seen please

    The Money Masters – How International Bankers Gained Control of America – Part1 (Fixed Audio)

    The Money Masters – How International Bankers Gained Control of America – Part2

    The Money Masters – How International Bankers Gained Control of America – Part3

    I hope you will be able to view this historical eye openning event, and remeber you will not become a WOLF, but a better SHEEP, who can recognises the WOLF, and knows the DANGER OF THE FOX

    ENJOY WATCHING. and be better sheep

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