Sipping on Economics: Brent Johnson’s Dollar Milkshake Theory Explained

Brent Johnsons Dollar Milkshare Theory

Remember sipping on those thick, creamy milkshakes as a kid? Sweet, cold, delicious. Now imagine a giant milkshake sucking up all the money in the world. Crazy right? Well, that’s the basic idea behind the Dollar Milkshake Theory. This offbeat concept was whipped up by analyst Brent Johnson to describe what might happen to the US dollar. He thinks all the stimulus and money printing by global central banks created a huge pool of liquidity – the “milkshake”.

Sipping on Economics: Brent Johnson’s Dollar Milkshake Theory Explained

When the Fed starts tightening policy, it sticks a big straw into that pool and slurps up all the liquidity. This could strengthen the dollar as money floods into USD assets. The result? A big mess for countries holding dollar-denominated debt. Grab a straw and let’s dive into the creamy details behind this financial brainfreeze. We’ll cover what’s driving it and who might get a brain freeze from it.

What is the Dollar Milkshake Theory?

When investor Brent Johnson first whipped up the Dollar Milkshake Theory, his sweet analogies left a lingering flavor. Here’s the scoop behind those tasty metaphors—and what they could mean for global economics.

Picture a tall, cold milkshake overflowing with whipped cream and a cherry on top. The frothy white cream represents all the assets swirling around the global financial system. The viscous milk and ice cream are the debts and cash flows gained and lost between markets. And the straw is the Fed’s monetary policy.

When the Fed injects stimulus into financial markets, it’s like adding extra milk and sugar into the economy’s milkshake. Liquidity rises, assets get frothy, and debts become easier to manage. Investors sip up profits through their trading straws.

Brent Johnsons Dollar Milkshare Theory

But when the Fed changes course and tightens policy, something shifts. That stimulus syringe becomes a straw, slurping up market liquidity. Debts and drains on dollars start to choke economies worldwide. Yet one currency grows ever thirstier as markets run dry: the mighty U.S. dollar.

The dollar sucks up capital flows globally, strengthening further against foreign currencies. Its supremacy seems destined to continue as emerging economies struggle to repay their dollar-denominated debts. Until suddenly, the weight of those debts causes the overfilled dollar glass to crack. Assets plunge and economies scramble amidst the mess. 

So what persuades Johnson that the U.S. dollar still has room left in its belly? He points to two key concepts:

  1. Global markets remain heavily dependent on the dollar for pricing deals and stacking cash. 
  2. Skyrocketing debts owe interest in: you guessed it…dollars. 

As long as those realities hold true, policy shifts could turn Fed funding into a capital-guzzling straw. And the dollar may drain global liquidity drop by drop before ultimately flooding the global financial kitchen.

The Investor Behind the Shake

The Dollar Milkshake Theory traces its origin to a single investor with a taste for colorful analogies: Brent Johnson. As CEO of Santiago Capital, Johnson stewards billions in assets. But he stirred up conversation across global finance with this signature concept.

Johnson first floated his milkshake metaphor around 2018. For years, some economists argued America’s economic zenith had passed. They envisioned the dollar’s value fizzling out as its dominance slipped.

Not so fast, countered Johnson. Despite lackluster growth and sky-high debts, he saw enduring dollar strength ahead.

Johnson’s rationale? The world remains utterly dependent on the dollar, whether they like it or not. His theory gained viral attention across social media and finance podcasts.

Let’s break down the key predictions in Johnson’s shake:

  • As central banks stimulate markets, they whip up a frothy pool of global capital (the “milkshake”).
  • When policy tightens, dollars surge as rates rise and debts swell. That Fed “syringe” becomes a straw, slurping up worldwide liquidity. 
  • The strengthening dollar strains foreign economies reliant on USD-denominated loans. Capital then flees riskier currencies for dollar safe haven. 
  • Ultimately, the bloated dollar collapses under its own weight. Financial carnage gives way to a shift toward hard assets.

Johnson introduced his theory around 2018, with the Dollar Index below 90. The index went on to hit a 20-year high beyond 115 in late 2022, then declined again, as shown below.

Whether you buy into a frothy dollar climb or bitter collapse ahead, Johnson’s shareable metaphor shook up thinking on global finance. His blend of vivid imagery and economic speculation still fuels debate – and keeps investors sipping complex theories through their straws.

Dollar Milkshake Theory

Watching the Theory Unfold

Alright, we’ve got our milkshake metaphor down. Now let’s scope out how this baby could play out in the real world if Johnson’s thesis holds.

The starting point is understanding what kicks the dollar into straw mode in the first place. That trigger? Central banks shifting from stimulus to tightening mode. Here’s an example of how it could go down:

First, policymakers juice markets by buying assets and lowering rates. Liquidity and lending bloom. Cue the milkshake swelling as that stimulus syringe fattens markets worldwide. 

But worried about inflation, the Fed eventually slurps up stimulus. Rates rise as dollars offer juicier returns. Investors ditch lower-yielding currencies to chase those rich dollar yields.

Meanwhile, emerging economies struggle under the weight of their USD debts. Rising rates crush their capacity to repay and import goods. So their central banks print more local currency to fund dollar purchases. And down the rabbit hole they go.

As local currencies spiral, the flight to safe-haven dollars picks up speed. The capital flood lifts the dollar higher, allowing the U.S. to suck up imports on the cheap. But crushed currencies make it tougher for struggling nations to export affordably. Trade imbalances worsen.

Rinse and repeat this cycle, and the dollar bloats bigger while other economies shrivel. Until eventually, the ever-growing tower of USD debts, deficits and dollar dominance cracks. Assets plunge and capital flees the financial carnage, flowing towards trusted safe havens.

So in an ideal scenario for the Dollar Milkshake Theory, tightening morphs the Fed’s stimulus tools into a capital-guzzling straw. Juicy rate differentials, invoicing needs and safe haven demand slurps up worldwide liquidity drop by delicious drop.

Milkshake Side Effects and Brain Freeze

Alright, what happens if Brent Johnson’s polarizing theory actually pans out? Let’s scope out potential reverberations – and common critiques.

For markets, Dollar Milkshake fallout could get ugly. As the overstuffed dollar spills, we may see:

  • Capital flight towards safe haven assets (sorry, not milkshakes) 
  • Mass defaults on dollar-denominated debt
  • Emerging market carnage and currency collapses
  • Severe loss of confidence in global banking system
  • Extended recession or even depression

In short: it’s not good for the average investor portfolio. Some argue for alternatives like gold or Bitcoin as the dollar declines. But in a crisis of such complexity, the ripples could swamp most boats.

Yet as with any gripping economic hypothesis, critiques abound. Here are common counters: 

  • It oversimplifies – global finance is complex and multifaceted. The theory focuses narrowly on Fed policy shifts.
  • Predictions lack clear timeframes. Strength could reverse quicker than expected.
  • It downplays other major currencies and central banks. Policy coordination affects outcomes.
  • Unpredictable events constantly reshape markets in unforeseen ways.

So in honesty, giant economic milkshakes don’t always behave as theorized. And this one leaves room for brain freeze. 

But whether you think Johnson’s call proves prescient or leaves markets with irritable bowels, it delivers food for thought.

Crypto in the Shake Spotlight

This milkshake metaphor originally intended to explain traditional finance. But what about its potential ripple effects for cryptocurrency markets?

If a strengthening dollar materializes, things could get messy. Bitcoin and altcoins often stumble when competing assets gain steam. An investor exodus towards surging dollars could throttle crypto prices.

Yet if global instability worsens, crypto could catch fire as a perceived safe haven. Bitcoin in particular retains a reputation as “digital gold” when markets look rocky. Its capped supply also hedges against currency debasement.

So the world of cryptocurrencies faces a coin toss. Will dollar dominance muscle out fledgling crypto assets? Or could macro shocks highlight their safe haven properties against currency devaluation?

Time will tell whether this economic shake leaves Bitcoin melted or whipped. But if traditional finance wobbles, crypto markets await their chance to catch foam off the top.

dollar milkshake theory

Tips for Guarding Your Assets

Whether or not this milkshake theory proves legit, it pays to insulate your investments in an uncertain world. Here are tips as the plot thickens:

  • Diversify your holdings across asset classes, companies, sectors, and geographies. Don’t overload on U.S. dollars or companies heavily tied to dollar strength.
  • Regularly rebalance assets back to target allocations when categories drift. This forces you to buy low and sell high.
  • Keep an emergency cash stash in a safe but accessible place, like a high yield savings account.
  • Consider allocating a portion towards alternatives like gold, Bitcoin or inflation-resistant assets.
  • If in doubt, consult a qualified financial advisor. Their guidance can prove invaluable for or protecting wealth in times of turbulence.

Remember, no single strategy perfectly safeguards against unforeseen events. But blending prudence, vigilance and expertise arms investors to endure most market shakes.

Whether it’s milkshakes or economic storms, a little common sense goes a long way. We’ll have to see if Johnson’s dollar theory melts down or not. But with wise precautions, your portfolio has a fighting chance to stay tasty.

Bottom Line

We’ve just consumed a substantial dose of speculation thanks to Brent Johnson’s Dollar Milkshake Theory. To recap:

  • It envisions Fed policy shifts allowing the dollar to slurp up global capital flows.
  • Debt dependence and safe haven demand would strengthen the dollar against foreign currencies.
  • Eventually the bloated dollar would collapse under its own weight.

This intriguing concept blends vivid metaphor with economic complexity. It offers international finance a shakeup – even if the predictions prove hard to swallow.

Regardless of whether you think the dollar still has room to swell, it pays to watch shifting monetary policies closely. Their ripples can foam or flatten markets in unexpected ways.

And as views divide on the dollar’s future, having a well-rounded perspective sets investors up to digest various outcomes.

So while frothy returns tempt in the short run, late-stage dollar dominance could curdle portfolios down the road. By planning ahead and diversifying holdings, the savviest investors can harness gains today while insulating their assets for tomorrow.

Because economic theories will always stir debate. But prudent decisions help ensure your portfolio stays delicious in the long run.

Now that you have a better understanding of Dollar Milkshake Theory and how it can affect global finance, now you might be thinking about diversifying you portfolio. If you are into cryptocurrencies, you can now buy Bitcoin with bank transfer on Blocktrade as well as many other coins. Adding Bitcoin to your portfolio could be a smart move if you want to ride the waves of financial innovation!


What makes the dollar so dominant nowadays?

The dollar owes its status to historical precedent, ample liquidity, trustworthiness, and integration into global banking – plus there’s just so darn many dollars floating around. It may not be backed by gold anymore, but it remains the world’s currency of choice.

Can other currencies challenge the dollar’s supremacy?

Potentially! But it would likely require a coordinated effort from major powers, probably including China. Crypto fans argue Bitcoin could someday claim ‘digital gold’ status. For now though, no single currency packs the stability and ubiquity to dethrone the dollar. 

What could realistically take the dollar’s place if it fell?

Good question – perhaps a basket of currencies (some think the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights could get there eventually). Gold would seem an obvious safe haven if fiat currencies falter. An optimist might argue cryptos like Bitcoin emerge. Unfortunately, a dollar collapse would likely spark serious global instability for a while if another trusted medium didn’t swiftly replace it.

Is the Dollar Milkshake Theory realistic?

Hard to say! Brent Johnson himself admits global finance is enormously complex. And critics argue the theory glances over too many variables at play. But straddling reality and vivid speculation is part of what makes the Dollar Milkshake Theory such a conversational piece!

What should an average investor do about all this?

Stay calm and diversify! Resist overexposure to dollar-denominated assets or companies heavily dependent on dollar strength. Keep some holdings in alternative asset classes too. Monitor monetary policy shifts closely. And if in doubt, ask a trusted financial advisor to help strategize.

Start investing today!


This is not financial advice. Mentioning coins and tokens is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or participate in the associated network. We would like to encourage you to do your own research and invest at your own risk.

Editorial team

We are a team of crypto enthusiasts. Each of us has extensive theoretical and practical experience in trading, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain. We also like to dig deep and explore. Our goal is to help you make the right and relevant decisions.

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