The Petroyuan Was Born This Week. Here’s What It Means.

03/31/201819 Comments

It has been promised for 25 years. Its coming has been heralded as a world-changing event. It has launched a thousand headlines in the last few months. And it happened this week. But if you blinked you would have missed it.

What am I talking about? Why, the launch of a Chinese yuan-denominated oil futures contracts on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, of course! Or, in more headline-appropriate terms: The Birth of the Petroyuan!

Considering this event has been in the works for literally a quarter of a century (since the Chinese tried and failed to launch such a contract in 1993), the occasion came and went with remarkably little fanfare, even from the ChiCom mouthpiece press. Take Xinhua’s decidedly low-key announcement: “China launches crude oil futures trading.” No celebration of the glorious arrival of the dawn of a new monetary order. No bold proclamations about the impending dominance of the Chinese benchmark in global oil sales. Not even a screed about how the fearless leader, President For Life Xi, is bravely steering the country toward a petroyuan utopia. Just:

China on Monday launched trading of the yuan-denominated crude oil futures contracts at the Shanghai International Energy Exchange, which is the first futures listed on China’s mainland to overseas investors.

The listed futures for trading are contracts to be delivered from September this year to March 2019. The benchmark prices of 15 contracts were set at 416 yuan (65.8 U.S. dollars), 388 yuan and 375 yuan per barrel, varied by delivery dates.

Li Qiang, Shanghai’s Party chief, and Liu Shiyu, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, together rang the gong to open the trading session.

Oh, and the name of this earth-shaking, world-changing futures contract? “SC1809.” It’s like they’re going out of their way to make this whole story as unremarkable as possible.

But still, here it is. The event that everyone’s been waiting for. A first, tentative step toward the petroyuan and one potential way for the international community to step away from the petrodollar. So what does it mean?

Find out what this new yuan-denominated oil futures contract means for the future of the global monetary system (and what it doesn’t mean) in this week’s Corbett Report Subscriber newsletter.

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