Ralph C. Bryant
The papers by Edward Bernstein and Michele Fratianni contain perceptive comments about the role of the dollar as an international reserve asset and, in Bernstein's case, insights about the balance of payments of the United States. Instead of focusing my discussion on points with which I disagree, I shall amplify several of the themes raised by the papers and in so doing try to extend the argument and put the issues in a broader perspective. My remarks also have a bearing on several of the topics discussed elsewhere in this volume.
Political Pluralism and Economic Interdependence. Fratianni speaks of a "weakening of the dollar standard" and the increasing failure of the dollar to play the role of a "dominant money." Bernstein, too, although in a less sweeping way and with more qualifications, sees a relative decline in the role of the dollar as an official reserve asset. I believe it is important to analyze the changes in the dollar's status against the background of a pervasive secular trend characteristic of all aspects of international relations. That trend could be described, to use the shorthand cliché, as the declining political hegemony of the United States. A more accurate characterization, however, would be "increasing political pluralism" -- a situation in which one nation or a few nations no longer effectively dominate international decision making.1____________________