Apr 30 2009

The Communists That We All Depend Upon

Published by at 7:19 pm under Global Economy,US Economy

“Of all the inventions that have helped to unify China perhaps the airplane is the most outstanding.  Its ability to annihilate distance has been in direct proportion to its achievements in assisting to annihilate suspicion and misunderstanding among provincial officials far removed from one another or from the officials at the seat of government.” – Madame Chiang Kai-Shek


It occurred to me recently while I was watching coverage of the G-20 in London that despite the reality that the United States and China are something less than allies in a diplomatic sense, the two countries are certainly joined at the hip economically.  This amuses me greatly when I think about what many of us in the U.S. – at least of my generation – were taught in school about China and communism in general.


Coincidently, yesterday I received an article published by Wharton Business School that included some very interesting facts and figures that support my observation above.  Most amazing, “China’s foreign exchange reserves have increased sharply over the past decade, from $216 billion in 2001 to $1.52 trillion in 2007, then $1.95 trillion in 2008.  Some estimates put the current figure as high as $2.3 trillion.  As a percent of GDP, China’s foreign exchange reserves grew from 15.3% in 2001 to 45% in 2008.  Economists estimate that about 70% of those reserves are held in dollar-backed assets.  China now holds as much as $1.36 trillion in U.S. securities and government debt.”  For more, read Attached at the Wallet: The Delicate Financial Relationship between the U.S. and China.


Most believe that China merely considers U.S. Treasury-backed debt the safest investment they can make, but others are suspicious that China is primarily keeping the value of the Yuan low and the U.S. economy as liquid as possible in order to sell more Chinese goods.  I am convinced the truth lies somewhere in between.  It is quite clear that unless China just wants to wipe out the whole global economy (which seems unlikely) – then these two super powers will continue to operate in much the same manner.  The U.S. certainly needs China to continue buying her debt and China needs the U.S. to keep buying Chinese products – and all the other countries are essentially on the sidelines hoping that nothing happens to damage this relationship beyond repair.

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