Friday, January 09, 2009

China, Republican Stupidity and Our Economic Future

Let me be clear about this: I think the greatest failing of the Bush Presidency was pawning the country to the Chinese. Not that I have anything against the Chinese themselves. I would feel the same way if we were hocked to Malta.

No, I get irate about this because it was dishonest. Instead of using the taxing power (which would have been honest), the Bush Administration used the borrowing power. He could then smirk about his tax cuts.

Now the pigeons have come home to roost. China Is Losing Its Taste for U.S. Debt (New York Times):
"HONG KONG — China has bought more than $1 trillion of American debt, but as the global downturn has intensified, Beijing is starting to keep more of its money at home, a move that could have painful effects for American borrowers."

***

In the last five years, China has spent as much as one-seventh of its entire economic output buying foreign debt, mostly American. In September, it surpassed Japan as the largest overseas holder of Treasuries.

But now Beijing is seeking to pay for its own $600 billion stimulus — just as tax revenue is falling sharply as the Chinese economy slows. Regulators have ordered banks to lend more money to small and medium-size enterprises, many of which are struggling with lower exports, and to local governments to build new roads and other projects.

***

For now, of course, there seems to be no shortage of buyers for Treasury bonds and other debt instruments as investors flee global economic uncertainty for the stability of United States government debt. This is why Treasury yields have plummeted to record lows. (The more investors want notes and bonds, the lower the yield, and short-term rates are close to zero.) The long-term effects of China’s using its money to increase its people’s standard of living, and the United States’ becoming less dependent on one lender, could even be positive. But that rebalancing must happen gradually to not hurt the value of American bonds or of China’s huge holdings.

But the Republicans will ride their "no tax" hobby-horse into the abyss. Or so I interpret Harold Meyerson's A Page From the Hoover Playbook:
"In Monday's meeting between President-elect Barack Obama and congressional leaders, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell suggested that instead of providing aid to the states to help them meet their Medicaid and education obligations, the federal government offer them loans. The idea is ridiculous on its face: With revenue drying up, states are already slashing services and reducing their workforces, which only deepens the downturn. The last thing they'd be inclined to do would be to take on more debt at the very moment they're struggling to balance their budgets.

Ride on, Mitch:

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