An alternative to popular faith

Here we go, again. The typical beggar-thy-neighbor approach to international trade.

6/10/10: By David Lawder; WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Thursday that reform of China’s exchange rate is “critically important” to the U.S. and global economies and a more flexible yuan was in China’s interest.
In his testimony, Geithner said the Obama administration wanted China to change policies that disadvantage American companies and to provide a more level playing field for U.S. products and investments. He vowed the administration would “apply forcefully” all remedies available under U.S. law to curb China’s unfair trade practices, including anti-dumping and countervailing duty complaints.
“A stronger yuan would benefit China because it would boost the purchasing power of households and encourage firms to shift production for domestic demand, rather than for export,” he said. “[…]which is particularly important now, with China’s economy facing a risk of inflation in goods and in asset prices.”


Think of it this way. When two nations each have the unlimited ability to create money, which nation benefits from a positive balance of trade? That is, which nation benefits when one sends more of its goods and services to the other?

In CHINA TRADE we saw that the nation exporting fewer resources (i.e. exporting more, easily created money), has the advantage. The Obama administration seems to believe international trade is a zero-sum game, where for every “winner” (net goods and services exporter) there is a “loser” (net goods and services importer). So in their minds, for the U.S. to be a winner, we must make sure there are enough nations that are losers – as I said, the beggar thy neighbor approach to international trade.

The technical truth is, the U.S. could we wealthy without exporting a single dollar’s worth of goods and services. Visualize that our exports were zero and the U.S. government were the sole “export” customer. Rather than exporting steel, sausage and services, the government would buy all this output. No, don’t get excited. I don’t suggest we stop exporting. I’m just trying to demonstrate a point.

Could the government afford it? Yes, the government has the unlimited ability to create the money to afford anything. Would our industries suffer? No, they would receive the same money as if they actually had exported. Would this increase the money supply to inflationary levels? No, the total money within the economy would be the same as if it had come in from other nations.

Yes, we’d have to solve the problem of what we do with all the goods and services we produce (Create new industries for this purpose??), but the U.S. literally could survive and prosper with no exports at all – as though it were the only nation on earth.

The Obama administration merely has set up China as a straw man, to take the blame for our economy’s failure to grow as fast as it should. But, the real blame should go to the debt hawk belief that federal deficit spending should be minimized. For years, our stimulus efforts have been too-little, too-late, and even today, while growth is painfully slow, and millions are out of work, there is more concern about so-called debt (i.e. money created) than about economic success.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity