I am not an economy expert (or even entry level learner), and actually I don’t know too much about the discussion my reader Rimbaud initiated, with DB following the comment. But I think it worth some serious discussion. The decrease in value of US dollar and strong RMB trend IS an important issue to discuss, and so is the losing of wealth from China because of it. This is what I am going to do. Let me post Rimbaud and DB’s comments here, and then open for discussion. I think it will be an very interesting thread, and it will be very educational for me.
A bit off-topic but I had to bring this to your attention:
So, the Chinese Central Bank has bought over ***$1 trillion*** of US Treasury Bills and other bonds and debt securities… yet with only a few billion dollars in capital? I live in the USA, and we’re suffering major inflation here as our dollar stays weak– which means that China is effectively LOSING ALMOST 1 TRILLION RMB on your US dollar foreign currency reserves (those US Treasury Bills) that you’ve been buying. What is your Central Bank thinking??? The best quote in the article, from a Chinese blogger: “It is as if China has made a gift to the United States Navy of 200 brand new aircraft carriers.”
I’m not sure how familiar you are with American slang, Jianshuowang, but in the USA, we would say that “the USA has played China for suckers”– i.e., the USA has tremendously screwed over China. Honestly, the transfer of wealth out of China now is worse than the Opium Wars, the Unequal Treaties and the Boxer Rebellion Treaty combined! The USA has essentially stolen perhaps $150 billion = 1 trillion RMB out of China, because the Chinese Central Bank has been investing the hard-won savings of Chinese people into US debt (mainly US Treasury Bills). Yet our economy is shake and on the brink of collapse– the USA (individuals and government) is deeply in debt, and we make it much worse since we still spend trillions on war weapons and the War in Iraq. In other words, the US economy is not viable over the next 20 years– we’re going to default on our debt. So you Chinese are losing over a trillion RMB on those T-bills you have bought.
Look, I’m sorry but I have to be honest here– why is the Chinese Central Bank being so tremendously stupid? You are essentially giving us Americans trillions of renminbi that you Chinese have earned from hard work– just giving it to us, for free, even though we Americans spend way too much and save too little. We don’t save for ourselves– so, you Chinese (via the Chinese Central Bank) have been giving us your savings.
We Americans are deeply in debt right now, our real estate sector is in collapse and we are entering a recession. Our schools are terrible, our infrastructure is crumbling and our manufacturing and knowledge sectors are in terrible shape– in other words, the United States is rapidly declining and our economy is slowly collapsing. Whereas, you Chinese work hard, have good schools, and are actually generating savings and wealth.
Yet then you waste your trillion RMB of savings and wealth, which you earn from hard work, and you give it to us profligate, non-saving American borrowers. So Americans are basically taking advantage of the Chinese, I mean honestly– your Central Bank has basically been letting the US steal over $100 billion of Chinese savings away! And with recent major inflation in the United States, all those T-Bills and bonds that the Chinese Central bank has been buying, continue to fall in value.
Even though I’m an American, I respect the Chinese I’ve worked with, and I hate to see you trusting the US system so much when our system is clearly broken. My advice to you would be as follows:
1. DIVERSIFY YOUR FOREIGN RESERVES!!! For goodness’ sake, if the Chinese people have extra savings, don’t invest those savings in declining, worthless US Treasury Bills, not even we American investors do that! Spread out your reserves– get some Euros, yen, Korean won, rubles and ringgit. Rather than buying up worthless US Treasury paper, also use your reserves to get raw materials (copper, coal, petroleum, gold, silver and land). In other words– get things with tangible value, not US Treasury paper. You can still buy some US dollar-denominated assets to prevent the yuan from rising too quickly– you want a slow, gradual rise in the yuan, not the kind of rapid rise in the yen that ruined Japan’s economy in the 1980’s– but get things that are tangible, not just financial paper.
2. Use the dollars that the Chinese Central Bank already has, to get things in the USA specifically that have real value– again, things like ships, ports, natural resources, factories, coal, food, even research labs with lots of technological expertise.
3. Get out of dollars as soon as you can. Every time the dollar gains a bit in value, take advantage of the gain to sell your dollars and make gains. Do this gradually so that the dollar doesn’t fall too fast, and you can get yourself out of dollars.
4. Remember that a few other countries (outside the USA) also use the dollar: Ecuador, Panama, Liberia, El Salvador, US Virgin Islands, East Timor and many Pacific islands. Use this to obtain dollar-denominated REAL ASSETS from them (natural resources and even land if possible) using the dollars you’ve built up. Again– get rid of your dollars gradually, using a method like this.
5. Exchange dollars for yen and buy up goods and resources in Latin American countries that use the peso, since the Japanese yen and the peso used in many Latin American countries, have not risen much against the dollar. So, your dollars can still get many yen– with the yen an undervalued currency likely to rise soon– and can also get many peso-denominated natural resources and other goods in Latin America, since the peso is one of the few currencies that has depreciated relative to the dollar.
Finally, 6. Please, when it comes to foreign languages, stop giving exclusive attention to English, and encourage Chinese students to learn other foreign languages. As I said, the USA (and UK for that matter) is in decline, but when your students know English and not other foreign languages, you’re essentially dependent on a declining system like the United States. So again, as with your foreign currency reserves– Diversify! Just make English an elective foreign language but learn others as well. I’d prioritize the following foreign languages:
A. German– the German-speaking Central European countries, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, E Belgium, N Italy and German-speaking regions in Eastern Europe– are now leaders in many fields of high-tech, especially in emerging Green Technologies, which will be the top technology of the 21st century. Learn German, the main language of the EU, and increase your trade and links with the Germanophone region of Europe.
B. Portuguese– among growing economies, Portuguese-speaking Brazil is by far one of the most encouraging and healthy, as well as an excellent source of raw materials. Portuguese would be very useful.
C. Hindi– Closer contacts with India and its own strong economy.
D. Spanish– Trade with Latin America, very rich in natural resources.
E. Arabic– The oil-exporting Arab nations will be among the wealthiest of the century, and obviously better business contacts can be quite useful.
F. Japanese and Korean– obviously valuable for trade close to home.
Again, I have to be honest here, because I feel that far too many Chinese are naive, and think that Americans are nice people who see the Chinese as “friends”: Most Americans either hate China, or fear and dislike you, and there is nothing you can do to change it. It’s not your fault– the reason for this is that the US media is full of anti-China propaganda and hatred. During the Beijing Olympics, when China was doing a magnificent job and being praised by the world, American news outlets basically spent the entire Olympics claiming that China cheated, claiming that China has a totalitarian and evil society, claiming that Chinese Olympic athletes are kidnapped from their families at age 2 and forced to train. It’s all false, but I’m telling you– this is what US media reports because they make money with it, and since most Americans get their information from the media propaganda here, they hate China.
There are of course, many millions of Americans who respect China and like the Chinese people, but unfortunately the majority aren’t like this– Americans can be extremely narrow-minded, provincial, xenophobic and even racist people at times.
So please, stop being so naive and be realistic, stop linking your entire economy and system to the United States so much. I like the fact that China is a humble power, hospitable, and does not interfere with other countries– that’s an excellent trait, and it will continue to serve China well. But at the same time, have some confidence, and stop pretending that the American system for education, business, technology and so forth is the best in the world. It used to be, but we aren’t the best anymore– we have some good qualities but also a broken, arrogant, small-minded system here in many ways. Just treat us like any other country– one to be respected, and treated hospitably, but just one country among many. DIVERSIFY your economy and system more and don’t depend on the USA so much, build up relations with the EU, Arab countries, Brazil, Latin America, India, Japan and other countries, and not so exclusively with the US itself.
Posted by: Rimbaud on September 5, 2008 4:25 PM
BTW, when it comes to investing your people’s savings in China, in general don’t give your savings to the USA with US T-bills and subsidize US borrowers. Instead:
1. Invest your savings in Chinese national infrastructure (roads, bridges, public transportations), in Chinese science and technology (and publish your scientific, technical and academic papers in Mandarin Chinese, you have to make Mandarin into an international language for publishing important ideas and findings, for Westerners to take China more seriously).
2. Also invest your savings in Chinese universities, provide seed capital to Chinese entrepreneurs to start more “Chinese silicon valleys,” invest in renewable fuel technologies and research (tidal, wind, solar, geothermal, fusion and hybrid/electric vehicles), a Chinese space program, the arts and so on.
3. In general, invest in and encourage the domestic Chinese economy instead of buying US T-bills.
Honestly, the way the USA has screwed over China with the loss in the T-bills’ value– it’s just like the Opium Wars all over again, except in this case it’s the naive Chinese Central Bankers who have just given the United States the equivalent of 1 trillion RMB of silver!
Posted by: Rimbaud on September 5, 2008 4:49 PM
I’d also strongly recommend these articles by the economist Henry CK Liu, with specifics on how China can productively “break the dollar hegemony” that is causing China so much damage, and leading Chinese citizens to lose so much wealth to borrowers in the United States:
He talks a lot about gradually shifting out of US T-bills and into the Chinese domestic economy, not just domestic consumption but domestic infrastructure, science and research (with good intellectual property protection and contract law), as I discussed above.
Posted by: Rimbaud on September 5, 2008 5:19 PM
if you intend to open a discussion on this, you should probably start topic of its own.
China’s leadership has deliberately chosen to manage its currency against the USD and has thus gained early front-loaded benefits (export growth + job creation in the export sector). Now they are incurring back-loaded costs (currency losses, pressure on the PBoC to continue incurring currency losses to keep the RMB from appreciating amid the global slowdown). It seems as it this was an unwise decision.
However, we always have to put everything into perspective. While we believe China’s leadership is responsible for China’s losses, Victor Shih – a well-known blogger – reports that “officials [in China] blamed the United States and believed the controversial assertions set forth in the book “Currency War,” a Chinese best seller published a year ago. The book suggests that the United States deliberately lured China into buying its securities knowing that they would later plunge in value. A lot of policy makers in China, at least midlevel policy makers, believe this.”
I agree with you that the China’s leaders have made a wrong decision. The question now is, how do we solve this problem? And who needs to act first? Is it up to China now to act? Or do Chinese politicians take the position that the bad and deceitful Americans, who have taken the Chinese to the cleaners, must take action first to clean their hands and compensate China for the currency losses?
In any case, this is and will remain a very exciting issue, and there are many great blogs covering the intertwinement of economies and the excessive global flow of capital at great length.
Posted by: DB on September 5, 2008 6:03 PM