Almost all commentaries on Britain’s financial and economic condition have managed to omit the fundamental dimension of imperialism: both that Britain is a major imperialist country in its own right, and, as a client of the us, the number two agent in the American imperialist system.
1. The pound operates as a reserve currency because Britain was a major imperialist country at the time when the present system was set up.
2. Britain’s balance of payments has suffered massive erosion from overseas expenditure—which is nothing but an attempt to perpetuate an imperial rôle.
3. Britain’s trading patterns are still (though decreasingly) influenced by the preferences and concessions connected with her imperial past. With the decline of the system, however, its contradictions have run out of control (‘defence’ expenditure to protect private investment in, say, the Middle East).
4. The perpetuation of Britain’s imperial rôle and the survival of sterling as a reserve currency has been encouraged and, up to a point, subsidized by the us.