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Fistful of dollars

Compared to the euro, the value of the United States (US) dollar has fallen 76 per cent in the last five years. So why would anyone want to be paid in a currency that's loosing its grunt. Not Iran. It's hedging its bets by selling its oil in a basketful of currencies brimming with euros and Chinese yuan. As it prepares to launch an oil exchange (bourse) which will trade in a currency other than US dollars, it's encouraging the big oil producing countries to do the same - effectively destroying the US dollar's monopoly in the international oil market. At the same time President George Bush is branding Iran as the world's worst terrorist nation and travelling to the Middle East to prosecute his case. Mere coincidence? Or punishing payback? It's one of many questions that this program raises for debate as today's guests examine the international impact of the falling US dollar: how it heralds 'the fall of the empire' and why it will bring about a dramatic decline in United States' influence over world economies and politics.

  • As the dollar declines, China is left holding an ever-decreasing bag. What will it do with the trillions of US dollars that it now holds in reserve? Renowned Asian intellectual and activist, Walden Bello - executive director of Focus on the Global South - considers China's options after he describes how the falling dollar is having a disproportionate impact on Asia's poor.
  • How are the Arab states likely to respond to the falling dollar? Political economist Ardeshir Ommani - a founder of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee that spearheads the Stop War on Iran campaign - finds some answers at the last Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) meeting and in present-day Iran.
  • And with the start of the year 4,706 in the Chinese calendar, Calvin Ke-ming Yen - the Director General of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Melbourne, Australia - drops in to wish us Happy New Year and stays on to explain the significance of both the dragon in the New Year festivities and the election of Taiwan's new Government.

This week's feature CD is Sahara performed by Javier Ruibal. He's a highly regarded singer-songwriter from Cadiz in Spain, blending passionate flamenco with more relaxed North African sounds.

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