Can Hacking Be A Financial Instrument?

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As financial instruments that keep nations stay healthy find to be less effective, nations are facing direr prospects of having to see their economies slowly inch closer to unsustainable conditions.  Imagine China continues to see United States prints more dollars out of thin air to devalue the dollar so United States’ exports can be competitive against the rest of the world, and China will face higher import costs to produce lesser profitable export goods since Chinese yuan is pegging against dollar.  As China isn’t so willingly to revalue yuan and allowing yuan to appreciate against dollar, China forces United States to print more money than ever to devalue the dollar so United States can stay competitive in exporting its goods.  United States knowing that exporting more will create jobs at home, consequently taming the wild beasts of deflation and unemployment that will lead to a healthier economy in near term or however long the United States can print money and China won’t scream foul.

Let assume China and United States are going to be locked in a currency war for a long time to come, and the financial instruments of both sides aren’t that effective since both sides might be able to dish out comparable damages, a tic for tac kind of things.  Seeing from this perspective, one can see why United States is so concerning about cyber security.  Once the usual financial instruments aren’t that effective, an oppose entity (e.g., nation, country, faction, coalition, and so on) can try to use a stealthier and more malicious mean to gain some advantages in regarding to world trade and a nation’s financial matters, and we’re talking of hacking.  Of course, there are many other means that might be as vicious as hacking or even more vicious than hacking such as intentionally manipulating an opposing nation’s derivative market to a point that such market would crash and create havocs within a nation’s economy.  Nonetheless, hacking is probably one of the easiest maneuvers which one nation can carry out against another nation.

Hacking can be inexpensive for the hackers and yet sometimes hackers can get more than what they want.  Hackers can also stay anonymous if they’re good, therefore hacking can be stealthy if stealth is important to the hackers.  Knowing hacking can be carried out with precision and with almost no consequence at state sponsor level, I don’t see why hacking is not one of the desirable methods in acquiring financial information and gaining sensitive data to manipulate another nation’s economy.  This is why it’s not unimaginable for the United States to consider hacking as an act of war and might lead to military actions.  As more facets of an economy come online or digitize, hacking can become an evermore dangerous and powerful instrument among other financial instruments to be used by nations.  Of course, hacking isn’t always motivating by financial means, sometimes it’s more about gaining military advance weaponries.  This is why hacking can become even more important than just a covert financial instrument for any nation.

So, I guess we can expect China and United States to continue playing a game of blaming each other on how they got hacked by the opposing nation.  I suspect that the United States and China won’t go as far as declaring war on each other if indeed they find out that the opposing party is hacking them, but I can see United States and China won’t be hesitating in punishing weaker opposing enemies in all means, even things has to boil down to carrying out some military actions.  Don’t be surprised to see more headlines of how one nation is hacking another in the news, because hacking can be quite a useful financial instrument and more.  It’s that serious!

Source —  Currency Wars:  The Making of the Next Global Crisis by James Rikards (book).