What would happen if the dollar was no longer the world's reserve currency?

Eichengreen sees a day in the not-too-distant future when the euro zone will have proven stability and e-bonds and China will have grown and modernized – and the euro and yuan will be attractive enough to take over a big chunk of the dollar’s turf.

“In my book, I talk about 10 to 20 years,” said Eichengreen.

If the dollar’s monopoly were to end, it would be costly.

“The U.S. loses three things,” Eichengreen says.

“We lose the convenience of being able to do business in other countries in our own currency. We lose the ability to borrow more cheaply than anyone else. And we lose the insurance policy that comes with the dollar’s safe-haven status.”

Bergsten agrees there would be short-term pain but said that in the long run, a less important dollar would be good for the country.