China's $2.4 Trillion Global Grip
By Robert Samuelson
China disclosed the other day that its foreign exchange reserves had increased to about $2.4 trillion in 2009, up $453 billion for the year. These stupendous figures -- and the likelihood that the country's reserves will rise by a comparable amount this year -- have become a financial, economic and geopolitical reality of surpassing significance. The significance is not, as many imagine, that China might suddenly "dump" the dollar and dethrone it as the world's major international currency, undermining American economic power and prestige. Two-thirds or more of China's reserves are estimated to be held in dollars. As an economic strategy, dumping the dollar would boomerang. It would amount to a declaration of economic war in which everyone -- Chinese, Americans and many others -- would lose.
Consider what would happen, hypothetically. China would first sell securities in which its dollars are invested. That would include an estimated $800 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds and securities, plus billions in American stocks and corporate bonds. After unloading the securities and collecting dollars, it would sell the dollars on foreign exchange markets for other currencies: the euro, the yen and who knows what else.
The massive disgorging of dollars could trigger another global economic collapse. As China's selling became known, other foreign and American investors might jump on the bandwagon, abandoning dollar securities and shifting currencies. If panic ensued, markets would fall sharply. Banks' and investors' capital and wealth would erode. The resumption of the global recession, even depression, would shrink foreign markets for China's exports (in 2009, its exports fell 16 percent). To protect jobs, other countries might impose quotas or tariffs on Chinese imports.
Arguments from Karlson:
GCF is of course government capital flow and PCF private capital flow. If a country then has a current account surplus and net private capital inflows this means that there must be net government capital outflows, or in other words that foreign exchange reserves (or sovereign wealth funds in other countries than China) must increase.
Something to think, not to believe.