Sunday, January 27, 2008

The $1.4 Trillion Question

Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplus—$1.4 trillion and counting, going up by about $1 billion per day—that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes. In effect, every person in the (rich) United States has over the past 10 years or so borrowed about $4,000 from someone in the (poor) People’s Republic of China. Like so many imbalances in economics, this one can’t go on indefinitely, and therefore won’t. But the way it ends—suddenly versus gradually, for predictable reasons versus during a panic—will make an enormous difference to the U.S. and Chinese economies over the next few years, to say nothing of bystanders in Europe and elsewhere.
James Fallows article in The Atlantic presents how this logic of "the balance of financial terror" between China and U.S. resemble so much alike like bygone cold war's "mutually assured destruction." "China can’t afford to stop feeding dollars to Americans, because China’s own dollar holdings would be devastated if it did. As long as that logic holds, the system works. As soon as it doesn’t, we have a big problem."

Read this "hyperbolic" analysis, though it could very well be tangential to reality as the writer correctly observes that "many world tragedies have been caused by miscalculation as by malice."

No comments:

Post a Comment