Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Tiger by the Tail

Just last year many were talking about how China is conquering the world economy. Now more wonder if there will be a world economy to conquer. I'm old enough to remember long long ago when Japan was conquering the world economy (roughly the 80s).
Didn't turn out that way exactly did it ?

I see a pattern. A country has a persistent trade surplus with the USA. Therefore they are winning and the US is losing. Their currency is strong. Therefore they are winning and the US is losing. They invest huge amounts of money in Treasury securities to keep the dollar from depreciating too much (how humiliating for the USA). Then they give up.

Then they are in deep trouble.

Japanese banks mainly got into trouble loaning to comercial real estate developers during the 1980s bubble, however, following requests from the ministry of fincnance, they invested hundreds of billions in dollar denominated assets. Those assets were worth many fewer yen when they needed yen. Japan was guaranteeing itself a huge loss on capital (which hurt expecially because it came as a loss of bank capital). This was considered brilliant economic strategy by US based Japanophobes.

Then the USA was number one for a while.

Then the PRC emerged as a booming economy and invincible competitor. They couldn't be beaten on the market becawuse they bought trillions of dollard denominated assets to prop up the dollar.

Fortunately the People's Bank of China can't run out of Yuan. However, I don't think the Chinese working masses will be pleased to find out what they get for their decades of working and saving.

Ah the contradictions of communism.


Anonymous said...

Possibly the most absurd argument by an otherwise rational person ever.

There is no significant danger to China in holding short term American Treasury debt. Duration is low, so that should there be an increase in American short term interest rates, there will be a quick portfolio adjustment.

A portfolio with a 1 year duration will decline 3% in price with an increase in interest rates of 3%, but there will be an additional 3% in interest earned over the course of the year to compensate. Inflation then is no risk. Default is also no risk since a Treasury default is Constitutionally impossible.

The only risk is a change in exchange rates against the Yuan, but then the Yuan will be relatively more valuable and the dollar less so and China can create Chinese currency while the Treasury debt held can purchase assets in America as before or now.

Really Chinese portfolio managers may actually know a little.

Anonymous said...

The job of writing on how foolish the Chinese are, is Council on Foreign Relations rubbish and should make others think a little. China will be just fine, and Chinese who do not care a fig about the CFR will not be the least displeased if the Yuan increases in value.

Robert Rubin delighted in repeatedly telling us that a strong dollar is in America's interest. China will be fine with a strong Yuan, and China has learned a lot from Japan after the Plaza Accord.

Anonymous said...

April 6, 2009

For the First Time in a Decade, an Administration Is Not Making Our Long Run Fiscal Problems Worse

This is, I think, something that makes us real deficit hawks happy--that we are, for the first time since the inauguration of George W. Bush, bending the curve and taking steps that help with our long-run deficit rather than steps that hurt.

Yet it does seem kind of quiet out there. Makes me think there are a lot of fake deficit hawks out there--people whose principal objection is not to unsustainable fiscal policies but rather to expenditures or tax expenditures that benefit the non-rich.

-- Brad DeLong

[More absurdity, but at least there is no attempt just here to damage the finest newspaper in the world.]

Anonymous said...

April 6, 2009

A Rich Education for Summers (After Harvard)

Lawrence H. Summers plays down his stint in the hedge fund business as a mere part-time job — but the financial and intellectual rewards that he gained there would make even most full-time workers envious.

Mr. Summers, the former Treasury secretary and Harvard president who is now the chief economic adviser to President Obama, earned nearly $5.2 million in just the last of his two years at one of the world’s largest funds, according to financial records released Friday by the White House.

Impressive as that might sound, it is all the more considering that Mr. Summers worked there just one day a week....

[Better gone to richer riches I suppose, than trying to intimidate Cornell West and assorted women.]