The world's energy trade has a new master puppeteer. Led by Vladimir Putin, a tenacious KBG officer turned modern-day tsar, Russia is undergoing a rapid economic and geopolitical renaissance. The story of Putin's rise to power holds the key to understanding how Russia toppled a generation of robber barons, upset the global balance of trade, and positioned itself as the most powerful force in the global energy market, with the power to starve other countries of power. If Putin's long-range plans are successful, he will reign in a new world order—one in which the United States and the US dollar play a diminished role, and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) replace the G7 in wealth and clout.
The EU has made concrete overtures toward buying oil in euros, and Russia and China are stockpiling gold in anticipation of a gold-for-oil system that may overtake the world scene. But whether oil is traded in euros, gold, Chinese yuan, or Russian rubles, the impact on the US dollar—and the oft-coveted American way of life—will be unprecedented.