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UPDATED: May 10, 2010 NO. 19 MAY 13, 2010
A Minor Player in the Global Game
Some say China needs a flexible exchange rate. That's a red herring

Regarding restrictions on trade, one of the most notorious is America's restriction on exports of dual use technology for military and consumer use. The United States also disingenuously states: "Well it's not much, so it really wouldn't matter." But who knows how much it would be? If the Chinese had been given the opportunity to import more, there may have been more balance.

Exchange rates did not create U.S. consumer debt; but financial de-regulation did.

Imbalances, as many people hold true, were created by the glut of spending on the part of the United States, which then filtered to other countries and accumulated in excess.

So what allowed China to have a surplus? China was basically balancing its imports and exports until just after the SARS epidemic in 2003. The nation tried to fight the epidemic, which exerted a serious human and social cost on China, by stimulating its economy. As the seriousness of SARS faded, the economy overheated, and in 2005 the Chinese Government restricted investment (to cool down the economy). Machinery imports slowed dramatically. China essentially had this surplus that picked up, not because exports accelerated, but because imports slowed.

In 2008, China allowed its currency to float. By keeping its currency high and appreciating it, China actually did the world a favor. Its policies helped the global economy at its lowest point during the crisis rather than, as termed by some, "stopping its revaluation policy," which isn't an accurate description of what was happening anyway.

Currency is a minor player, if a player at all, in damaging the global economy. The real problem is that right now the fiscal policies of the United States and Europe, and those proposed by the IMF, are too conservative. We need to replace the liquidity we lost during the crisis and in the collapse of America's spending power. But we need to replace it in a safe and sustainable way.


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