We Sneezed, They Got Pneumonia

Don’t worry about China taking over the US economy. Despite what all the talking heads on TV and the radio talk shows are saying, there isn’t another country out there that hasn’t been hammered at least as badly as we have by the financial meltdown. The problem with any other country attacking the US dollar, for example, is that they are all holding a lot of US dollars. You probably remember last year they were worried about the fact that we import so many goods that we have big “trade imbalances” – meaning that we buy more of their goods than they buy of ours.

Now remember this: we pay for those imports with dollars. So, again, if the dollar is worth less (or worthless) then they are not going to be getting as much for their imports. Raising the price of their goods, that is, simply charging more dollars won’t do them any good either. We’re in a recession, and Americans are tightening their belts. Demand for imported goods, like demand for all goods except luxury goods, is price sensitive. The more they charge, the less we buy. According to an article on CNN.com, our belt tightening has ended the “Road to riches for 20 million Chinese poor.”

Furthermore, it’s in the best interest of countries around the world that the US dollar stays strong. The door does swing both ways. According to Jack Willoughby at Barrons.com, “European banks provided three-quarters of the $4.7 trillion in cross-border loans to the Baltic countries, Eastern Europe, Latin America and emerging Asia. Their emerging-markets exposure exceeds that of U.S lenders to all subprime loans.”

To support all of that exposure, the European Central Bank has been obtaining dollars from the U.S. Federal Reserve in currency swaps. The value of these swaps, where dollars are exchanged for other currency at a fixed and renewable exchange rate, went from $0 to $560 billion this year.

And the Federal Reserve printing presses keep rolling along.