Sunday, January 18, 2009

US-China: The Shift

Earlier -- I guess yesterday, by now -- I cited evidence that has come out lately suggesting the possibility of a shift in the China-US economic relationship. Specifically, it is possible that China is in the process of slowing down or maybe even contracting its purchases of US treasuries and dollars. Let me be clear, there is evidence of a shift, not proof. But I think it is best if we start analyzing reality as if the shift is here. So we can start planning. In that vein, very few of us can claim to know what the shift means, or would mean. Questions like whether it'll be 'good' for the US, terrible for the US, or perhaps if it'll be boring and non-descript -- these are just about unanswerable except in speculative terms. My sense tells me the shift will mean that America needs nothing less than a new basis of economic growth; that is, if the age of foreign financing is slowly coming to an end. China's move away from the dollar and away from the financing of US debt -- whether already underway, or on the horizon -- is exciting, scary, puzzling, challenging. And probably many other things. It is coming upon us faster than otherwise because of the credit crisis. But really, we should be able to see that the shift was (or is) basically inevitable: China wasn't (isn't) going to finance our lifestyle forever, right? Here's to hoping our leaders had (have) a backup plan, just in case. Because 'in case' just might be what we now have.

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