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Professor Roubini, of New York University's Stern business school, believes that while such a major change is some way off, the Chinese government is laying the ground for the yuan's ascendance.
Known as "Dr Doom" for his negative stance, Prof Roubini argues that China is better placed than the US to provide a reserve currency for the 21st century because it has a large current account surplus, focused government and few of the economic worries the US faces.
You don't need to hold a lot of debt to hold a lot of dollars. Which they are using to buy the commodities they need to strengthen the yuan against the dollar in the coming months. This will make the Yuan more attractive to countries seeking to switch from the dollar through currency swaps. This is already starting in Argentina
The SDR does not contain the Renminbi (sometimes referred to as Chinese Yuan), Indian Rupee, Australian Dollar or Canadian Dollar, which are important benchmark or secondary global reserve currencies.
Two major banks outside mainland China said Tuesday they've become the first foreign companies granted approval to sell bonds in Chinese yuan - a step toward making it an international currency.
The banks - London-based HSBC Holdings ( HBC - news - people ) and Hong Kong-based Bank of East Asia ( BKEAF.PK - news - people ) - said in statements their subsidiaries in mainland China have been given permission by regulators to start issuing yuan-denominated bonds in Hong Kong.
Other details, including the amounts and timing of the offerings, weren't released.
It marks the first time firms based outside the mainland have been given the OK to sell such debt securities in Hong Kong, a move that furthers Beijing's goal of promoting the yuan as an alternative to the U.S. dollar for international trade and reserves.
Tight government controls largely restrict the yuan's use beyond China's borders, giving Beijing influence over the currency's exchange rate, though that's slowly changing.
Last month, the government announced plans to allow Shanghai and four other major cities to settle foreign trade in yuan - also known as the renminbi - rather than in dollars. The central bank has signed a string of agreements in recent months promising to lend yuan to Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Belarus and Argentina that could lead more firms importing from China to pay in yuan.
"The government is trying to become less reliant on U.S. dollars as a reserve currency, with a longer-term goal to make the renminbi a more global currency," said Kelvin Lau, regional economist at Standard Chartered ( SCBEF.PK - news - people ) Bank.
Letting HSBC and Bank of East Asia issue bonds in Hong Kong also meshes with Beijing's ambitions for its currency. Doing so helps develop overseas financial markets for the yuan, in turn boosting its liquidity and attractiveness among investors.
For the banks, it means more yuan to lend out and fund their own operations on the mainland.
"We believe that (a yuan) issue by HSBC China will help establish a representative pricing benchmark for foreign banks requiring funding, and will help the development of Hong Kong's offshore RMB market," Richard Yorke, chief executive of HSBC in China, said in a statement.