Thursday, April 07, 2005

US Foreign Debt

America’s 12-month current-account deficit now stands at $665.9 billion, or 5.7% of GDP. Since a negative balance in the current account must be complemented by a positive balance in the capital account, this means that foreign funds are streaming in. America is mortgaging its future to pay for current spending.
More than half of publicly trade Treasury bonds are held by foreigners. That is kind of scary. Looks like lots of the increase happened during Clinton's time, but then went to the next level with Bush.
The natural adjustment mechanism for America’s rapidly growing foreign liabilities would be a declining dollar, which would lower demand for imports and make America’s exports more attractive on foreign markets. But the Asian central banks are stalling this process because they want to keep their currencies from appreciating against the dollar and thus becoming less competitive—and buying sackloads of dollars and then dumping them into US Treasuries achieves just that. This simply enables America to borrow more, making the inevitable adjustment sharper when it comes
Both the US and Asia are going to be screwed when this happens.


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