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Since World War II’s end, the dollar has been used to invoice most global trade, serving as the intermediary currency for clearing international payments among banks and dominating official foreign-exchange reserves. This arrangement has often been criticized, but is there any viable alternative?

The problem for postwar Europe, mired in depression and inflation, was that it lacked foreign reserves, which meant that trade carried a high opportunity cost. To facilitate trade without requiring payment after each transaction, the Organization for European Economic Cooperation created the European Payments Union in 1950.

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