Zhang Monan

US is the true money meddler

By Zhang Monan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-23 07:51
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Editor's note: By tracking a series of financial policies of White House since last year, the article exposes the manipulation of dollar by U.S. who pursues its own recovery only.

Washington has chosen to depreciate the dollar as a tool to cut down on its foreign debts since World War II.

A group of 130 lawmakers from the United States sent a letter last Monday to the US Treasury calling on the Obama administration to pressure China on its exchange rate.

Accusing the Chinese government of subsidizing exports, they claimed that the "artificially undervalued" yuan is unfair to foreign competitors and puts China's exporters at an advantage.

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This laughable accusation exposes Washington's conspiracy to mislead people from the real currency manipulator that has caused turbulences in the global financial market: the US. To transfer the impacts of the global financial crisis to foreign countries, the Obama administration has adopted a monetary policy that only aids its own economic recovery.

When the global financial crisis began to careen at the start of last year, nearly every country turned to a "de-leveraging" financial policy to reduce financial risk. But the US, by taking advantage of the dollar's position as the world's leading currency, attracted a large amount of capital back into the US to balance its financial debt.

As the crisis began to subside in early last March in China, the US opened its fluidity valve and embraced a monetary policy of quantitative easing. Consequently, the US capital market experienced a robust rebound, which, along with a large range of depreciation of the dollar, has prodded the US economy, especially its foreign trade, to recovery.

However, as the world's largest economy began to climb out of its recession during last year's third quarter - during which a 2.2 percent economic growth was achieved - decision-makers in the White House believed it was time to halt the dollar's weak position.

To make up for its steep fall in the previous months, the dollar has bounced back by 10 percent since last November. But the economic outlook in the US' European allies is dire. Following the rebound of the dollar and mitigation of the US' financial difficulties, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain and Iceland have suffered a worsening fiscal deficit and spreading debt crisis. The deteriorating financial scenarios in these European nations has undoubtedly caused a domino effect to other members and triggered a serious crisis of trust across the European Union.

Since the outbreak of the debt crisis in Greece last December, the value of the euro has continued to fall against the dollar. Since its historical 1 to 1.51 exchange rate against the US dollar, the euro has dropped by more than 10 percent over the past three months, added by speculations of international investment companies such as Goldman Sachs. Due to the fierce currency war with the dollar, partly for the leading role in the international currency system, the euro has plunged into a more difficult predicament since its establishment in 1999.

The US has always adopted an egotistical and unilateralist dollar policy. The currency has been considered an effective instrument to balance the US' national interests and manage crises.

A depreciated dollar has helped boost US exports and reduce its trade deficits against other countries. In October, a month in which the dollar devalued by a large margin, the US trade deficit declined by 7.6 percent from the previous month to $32.9 billion. This massive large trade deficit reduction has effectively helped imbalances in US current accounts and spurred its economic revival. However, the huge fiscal deficit and government debt still remain a bigger concern to Washington. As the largest US government debt holder, China's reduction in its holding of US Treasury bonds in the past three consecutive months has caused great concerns within the White House.

Under these circumstances, Washington chose to appreciate the dollar in an attempt to reverse declining US debts, increase its attractiveness and mitigate growing concerns among its creditor about the safety of dollar-denominated assets. According to the US Treasury Department, the country is due to issue to foreign countries $478 billion of national debt in this year's first quarter and $745 billion in the first half of this year. Washington certainly needs a strong dollar to support its debt issuance plan.

According to a recent budgetary program unveiled by the Obama administration, the rate of the US national debt to its gross domestic product in the 2009 fiscal year was 83 percent and is due to rise to 94 percent in the 2010 fiscal year.

Given that the US national debt is calculated according to the dollar, a depreciating dollar would help reduce the volume of its real debt and sustain Washington's deficit-reliant financial policy. The US has actually chosen to depreciate the dollar as a main way to cut down its foreign debts since the end of World War II.

Pressuring China to appreciate its currency and forcing the country into concessions on opening its financial market have served as part of the US' monetary and financial campaign. The dollar, which has long been used by Washington as a forcible weapon to maximize its national interests and manage economic crises, still remains the Sword of Damocles hanging over the global financial market. But Washington's foolish dollar manipulations also serve as the best evidence of figuring out who is the world's largest currency manipulator and who should be levied by an anti-subsidy tariff.

The author is an economics researcher with the State Information Center.

(China Daily 03/23/2010 page8)