Currency Wars (simplified Chinese: 货币战争; traditional Chinese: 貨幣戰爭; pinyin: Huòbì zhànzhēng) by Song Hongbing, also known as The Currency War, is a bestseller in China, reportedly selling over 200,000 copies in addition to an estimated 400,000 unlicensed copies in circulation and is reportedly being read by many senior level government and business leaders in China. Originally published in 2007 the book gained a resurgence in 2009 and is seen as a prominent exponent of a recently emerged genre labeled "economic nationalist" literature. Another bestselling book within this genre is Unhappy China; however, unlike this and other books within this genre, Currency Wars has been received more positively by the Chinese leadership as its recommendations are seen as less aggressive towards the US. The premise of this book is that Western countries are ultimately controlled by a group of private banks, which, according to the book, runs their central banks. This book uses the claim that the Federal Reserve is a private body to support its role. More than one million copies of this book have been sold.
In July 2009, the book was followed by a sequel, Currency Wars 2: World of Gold Privilege (Chinese: 货币战争2：金权天下), published by China Industry and Commerce Publishing House (ISBN 978-9573265214), which The Financial Times reported as being one of the most popular books in China by late 2009. More than two million copies have been sold. In this book, Song predicted that by 2024, the world's single currency system will mature. He believes that if China can not be dominant in this system, it should not participate, but should be self-hill, have their own sphere of financial influence. This last topic is much more developed in the second sequel.
In May 2011, Currency Wars 3: Financial High Frontier (Chinese: 货币战争3：金融高边疆), a second sequel was published by Yuan-Liou Publishing (ISBN 978-9573267843). It discusses more specifically the modern Chinese History (from Chiang Kai-shek to the depreciation in the long term trend of U.S. dollar) seen from a Currency War perspective. It pushes towards an isolationist financial policy.
According to the book, the western countries in general and the US in particular are controlled by a clique of international bankers, which use currency manipulation (hence the title) to gain wealth by first loaning money in USD to developing nations and then shorting their currency. The Japanese Lost decade, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the Latin American financial crisis and others are attributed to this cause. It also claims that the Rothschild Family has the wealth of 5 trillion dollars whereas Bill Gates only has 40 billion dollars.
Song also is of the opinion that the famous U.S. central bank, the Federal Reserve, is not a department of state functions, but several private banks operated by the private sector, and that these private banks are loyal to the ubiquitous Rothschild family.
On June 4, 1963, President Kennedy signed an executive order, which, as an amendment to Executive Order 10289, delegated the authority to issue silver certificates (notes convertible to silver on demand) to the Secretary of the Treasury. Song says the direct consequence was that the Federal Reserve lost its monopoly to control money.
The book looks back at history and argues that fiat currency itself is a conspiracy; it sees in the abolition of representative currency and the installment of fiat currency a struggle between the "banking clique" and the governments of the western nations, ending in the victory of the former. It advises the Chinese government to keep a vigilant eye on China's currency and instate a representative currency.
The book has achieved bestseller status in China. Although acknowledging the book's huge popularity in China, the Financial Times described it as only passably entertaining and its thesis as far-fetched. Fred Hu, managing director of Goldman Sachs Group, said the currency wars were "non-existent". He uses in his review words as "a simple out of line, outrageous distortion", "many errors, out of context, far-fetched, exaggerated, or simply speculate, uncertain", and the conclusion to this book as a "melted mixed the ultra-left trend of thought, far-right tendencies, populism, isolationism, anarchism".
According to Zhang Jiayi, it could be argued that the "currency wars" series of books' goal in promoting the conspiracy theory is precisely to meet the angry psychology of youth.
The book has been criticized for promoting antisemitic conspiracy theories. The book says that Jews have been conspiring to covertly influence historical events ranging from the Battle of Waterloo to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, with the intention of increasing their wealth and influence. In this respect, the material echoes traditional antisemitic conspiracy theories such as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, The International Jew, and Nazi propaganda like Der Stürmer. This is seen as rather unusual as China is not generally known for antisemitism.
Several Chinese-American scholars also gave the first book negative reviews. Chen Zhiwu (Yale University) affirmed the reference values of the details the book provided, such as "what the Rothschild family did, how impacts the financial sector has on a country's development, etc". However, he finds the author, by that time the structured finance department manager of Hong Yuan securities, lacks financial expertise to be qualified to prescribe China with future directions. Zhang Xin (University of Toledo/Ohio) finds the book rich in historical knowledge, of which many he would not be able to analyse, but as a currency and financial system researcher, he believes the framework of the book is completely wrong and criticizes the book as lacking in "common sense".
The author responded to these comment by saying "While many scholars have voiced their objections to this book, they are aimed at the details of the book, not its logic or structure."