China largest holder of US Treasury bonds
Business Times Published: 2008/11/20
SHANGHAI: China is now officially the US government's largest foreign creditor after overtaking Japan, in a development that signals Washington's increasing reliance on Beijing to save its economy.
China became the largest foreign holder of US Treasuries, owning US$585 billion (US$1 = RM3.61) worth as of September, according to US Treasury Department figures.
But, analysts warned yesterday, neither country should be celebrating the development, which underlines serious imbalances in the global economy.
"China's GDP per capita ranks around 100th in the world, but it is actually subsidising the world's richest country," said Zhang Ming, an economist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank in Beijing.
Zhang argued that becoming the largest foreign holder of US Treasuries is only an illustration of how serious the imbalances are in China's overly export-driven economy, rather than an indicator of its strength.
"What China is doing involves high risks," he said. "When the debts become massive, there are always more risks for the creditor - that's by no means symmetrical." China's ever-growing trade surplus, a major source of its massive foreign exchange reserves that is mostly made up of US dollar assets including Treasuries, hit a monthly all-time high of US$35.2 billion in October.
Throughout the third quarter, China piled more than US$81.1 billion into Treasuries - the safest US assets it could find - while dumping bonds from government-affiliated agencies, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, said Brad Setser, an economist at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations. - AFP
Japan's Summit Hopes
Prime Minister Taro Aso On an Economic Rescue
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, who leads the world's second-largest national economy, spoke with editorial page editor Fred Hiatt and reporter Anthony Faiola yesterday ahead of his planned attendance at today's G-20 meeting. Excerpts:
Aso: First, I'd like to say that there seem to be many people nowadays talking about what should come after Bretton Woods or after the dollar key-currency regime, but I do not think this is realistic. . . . We must continue to support the dollar regime for some time.
I'd also point out . . . that, with regard to the IMF, it does not have adequate resources and . . . therefore we feel there's a need to increase the capital resource of the fund.
Japan is prepared to provide, in the form of loans, up to, say, a maximum of $100 million to the IMF.
Oil-producing countries, China, perhaps some other countries that have ample foreign currency reserves could also contribute.
Q. It's said that China is unlikely to [contribute] unless its clout in the IMF is increased. Would you favor that?
Well, I think it is true that the Asian voice is somewhat limited at the IMF and other international institutions. The economic clout of emerging economies is far different today than when the Bretton Woods system was established, in 1944, or when the United Nations was established. So not just the Chinese, but it is quite understandable that other Asian countries also would express that sort of view. . . .
Q. How quickly would you like to see China have greater voting rights in the IMF?
I don't think that is something that should be achieved today or tomorrow. I believe that needs to be worked out in time through the IMF annual meetings, because if we try to achieve that in haste, it will only cause some frictions within the IMF.
Q. Do you think the administration is making a mistake by only injecting capital into banks and not buying troubled assets?
There are certain things that Japan did back in '97 and '98 that are not properly understood outside our country. The first thing was to properly and fairly value the troubled assets that were held by the banks in the form of real estate, and remove these troubled assets from their balance sheets.
Second we discovered that market policy alone would not enable us to get over the crisis. You see, bank lending rates would approach infinitely close to zero, and yet business corporations did not borrow from banks. . . . Banks found a huge glut of money on hand for which there was no one to borrow, so the balance sheets of banks continued to weaken, which led Japan into deflation. If the situation had been left unattended, doubtless Japan would have fallen into something akin to the Great Depression. So, at that point, the government went ahead with the mobilization of public funds.
But, just as it has been in the United states, in Japan, too, taxpayers were quite skeptical; in fact, many were opposed to the injection of public money into banks. "Why the hell do taxpayers have to donate to those filthy bankers?" -- that was the ordinary taxpayer reaction.
Q. The United States is considering helping its auto industry. Would you see subsidies as a form of protectionism? Are you concerned that we may be entering an era of protectionism?
Well, I think there are three basic mistakes that we need to learn from the experience of the 1920s. One, countries around the world organized into closed economic blocs. Two, many countries devalued their currencies in order to expand their exports, and, three, these economic blocs did not talk to each other. . . . So we need to learn those lessons and firmly stand against protectionism.
I believe the auto industry is a major factor for the U.S. in terms of jobs, and I think American people in general have a close attachment to the automobile, so, at the end of the day, I think a U.S. government will end up having to, in one way or another, provide some kind of help to the auto industry. . . . But will it really suffice just to provide financial support? Is ensuring their cash flow sufficient? As I see it, other factors [are] needed for putting the automotive industry back on its feet, such as technological factors, labor training and so on, because I think they need to work on developing fuel-efficient cars.
Q. You recently had to fire your air force chief of staff [for a nationalist essay that said, among other things, that the United States trapped Japan into bombing Pearl Harbor]. Is such nationalism widespread in the military, and should that concern your neighbors?
It's difficult to ensure that there is a common perception with regard to history. For example, in the United States, the Civil War is the name that is used in the North, whereas you go to the South and the textbooks there actually refer to the Civil War as the invasion into the South by the North. . . .
And while I believe there is nothing wrong with being patriotic, and different views are aired by many people on history -- including views that oppose the chief's view -- I would not think that it's as if views of the right are rising rapidly in Japan.
Yen Rises on Speculation G-20 Will Fail to Boost Global Economy
By Stanley White
Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The yen rose against the dollar and the euro on speculation a Group of 20 nations summit will fail to reach a consensus on how to kick start the global economy.
The yen also advanced against the Australian and New Zealand dollars as uncertainty about the outcome of the meeting prompted traders to pare purchases of higher-yielding assets. The dollar may fall for a second day against the euro before a report that may show U.S. retail sales declined by the most since the 2001 recession.
``I'm looking for the yen to strengthen against the dollar,'' said Takeshi Tokita, vice president of foreign- exchange sales in Tokyo at Mizuho Corporate Bank, a unit of Japan's second-largest publicly traded lender. ``No one is sure what will come out of the G-20. It's likely that the U.S. and Europe won't see eye to eye on many of the problems the global economy is facing.''
The yen rose to 97.10 per dollar as of 9:53 a.m. in Tokyo from 97.68 late yesterday in New York. Against the euro, it was at 123.99 from 124.78. The euro was little changed at $1.2772. The yen may fall to 95.50 today, Tokita said.
Heads of state from the G-20 nations gather in Washington today for two days of talks on how to tackle the global economic crisis sparked by a seizure in credit markets and losses on mortgage derivatives.
U.S. President George W. Bush yesterday urged leaders of the world's biggest economies not to abandon free-market capitalism. G-20 leaders including Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have used the crisis to demand greater government control of markets and to attack the U.S. for failing to rein in investors and speculators.
Under debate are proposals ranging from curbing executive pay and restraining hedge funds to raising capital requirements for banks and subjecting credit-rating companies to stiffer oversight.
Obama Asks Bush to Back Rescue of Automakers
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
President-elect Barack Obama yesterday urged President Bush to support immediate aid for struggling automakers and back a new stimulus package, even as congressional Democrats began drafting legislation to give the Detroit automakers quick access to $25 billion by adding them to the Treasury Department's $700 billion economic rescue program.
Bush, speaking privately to Obama during their first Oval Office meeting, repeated his administration's stand that he might support quick action on those bills if Democratic leaders drop their opposition to a Colombia trade agreement that Bush supports, according to people familiar with the discussions. ブッシュは、コロンビア通商協定に賛成するならば、ＧＭを助けてやろうと、、
The discussions raised the stakes for a lame-duck session of Congress that could begin next week and came as fears about General Motors' financial condition yesterday pushed the company's stock price to its lowest level in about 60 years. Obama said last week that passage of the economic stimulus package and help for American car companies are his top priorities. The Bush administration has steadfastly pushed for trade deals before he leaves office. オバマの目下の最優先事項は、ビッグ３の救済なのだ。ミシガン州は、オバマを支持した自動車労組の本丸だからだ。ブッシュは、当然、乗り気ではない、、
Congress could consider the auto measure as soon as next week, when lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington. Yesterday, in an urgent bipartisan appeal, all 15 House members and both senators from Michigan sent a letter asking the Bush administration to include the auto industry in the Treasury program on its own initiative or to work with Congress to modify the program.
"There's an urgent crisis. It's a national issue. If the administration won't act, we'll have to. But they should act," said Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.).
The entire auto industry is suffering these days, but GM has been particularly hard hit as sales have slowed and credit has tightened. Once the world's largest automaker, the company said yesterday that it was in danger of running out of cash next year. The company is taking a series of steps to conserve cash, including cutting production and laying off 5,500 more factory workers. Yet one closely followed Deutsche Bank analyst cut his forecast on GM's share price to zero, saying that even if GM manages to avert bankruptcy, "we believe that the company's future path is likely to be bankruptcy-like." ドイツ銀行は、ＧＭを救済したところで、破産する公算が高いと、、
The gloomy assessment and others like it helped knock down GM's shares by nearly 23 percent, to $3.36.
So far, administration officials have resisted calls to include the Detroit automakers in the Treasury's bailout program, which was conceived to stabilize banks and other financial institutions reeling from the global credit crisis. Opening the program to the auto industry would expand the government's role in private enterprise far beyond the banking sector, and analysts warn that it could prompt a long line of companies from other industries to show up in Washington with their hands out.
Administration officials have pointed instead to $25 billion in low-interest loans recently approved by Congress as a source of quick help for the car companies. Yesterday, White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters that the White House would be open to legislation that removes bureaucratic roadblocks slowing the release of that money.
"Congress is going to come back into town next week," Perino said. "If it wants to do anything in addition for the automakers, we'll certainly listen to ideas they have on how to accelerate the loans to viable companies."
Democrats said the loan program is intended to provide long-term assistance to the car companies to retool their factories to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. They said it was not designed to provide urgent relief from a crisis in consumer confidence that has pushed auto sales to their lowest level in two decades.
"GM has estimated maybe they'd get a billion or two at most next year" from the previously approved loan program, Levin said. "It wouldn't provide for the infusion of capital that's absolutely necessary for them to bridge to the future."
Democrats want the Bush administration to approve an additional $25 billion in loans from the Treasury program, bringing total federal assistance to the car companies to $50 billion. In a letter sent yesterday to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., Levin and other Michigan lawmakers urged Paulson "in the strongest possible terms to use your authority under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) or other statutes to immediately address a significant and systemic threat to the U.S. economy and provide emergency assistance to the domestic automobile industry."
Given that one of every 10 U.S. jobs depends in some way on the auto industry, the letter says, helping Detroit is "well within the broad mandate of the Treasury Department to promote stable economic growth. Given the urgency of the situation, we ask that you work with us in the coming days to provide immediate loan support to the domestic auto industry, including, if necessary," by amending the emergency stabilization act.
The letter followed a similar entreaty to Paulson over the weekend by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.).
Amending the Treasury program would require action by both chambers of Congress. As of yesterday, Senate leaders planned to convene Nov. 17, but House leaders had yet to decide whether to summon lawmakers back to work. Although most House members will be in Washington next week to choose the leadership for the next Congress, retiring members and those who lost their seats on election night will not return unless Pelosi calls them back.
House leaders have said they are unlikely to convene the House for legislative business unless the Bush administration agrees to negotiate a spending package to revive the broader economy. As of yesterday, although the two sides continued to talk, there was no deal. But if the Senate approves a $61 billion economic stimulus package that the House passed in September, the House might return to work on that legislation, creating an opportunity to help the automakers.
Michigan lawmakers from both parties said failure to act would be devastating, not only to the car companies but also to the nation.
"Our nation's leaders must not turn a deaf ear toward helping the nation's automakers," Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), co-chairman of the Congressional Auto Caucus, said in a written statement. "We can either stand by and do nothing, watching tens of thousands of jobs in Michigan and Middle America evaporate, or we can meet our challenges head on."
Given the vast sums of money the Bush administration has provided to Wall Street, including a rapidly growing bailout for insurance giant American International Group, Levin said the administration had no excuse not to act.
"How much are we giving AIG? $150 billion? And we're talking about $25 billion for what has been the major industry of this country," Levin said. "If there's a will, there's a way. So now it's up to the administration to respond. If they don't, we'll act." レービン民主党議員は「ＡＩＧ保険会社には１５０ビリオンも出したじゃないか！ＧＭはったの２５ビリオンが要るんだよ！」（この意味するところは、民主党は労働者側で、共和党はウォール街側に立つからだ。社会主義ＶＳ資本主義といえる。伊勢）
From the time I entered the Naval Academy at age seventeen I have been privileged and honored to serve my country.
Throughout my years of service, I've been faced with challenges where I could have taken the easy way out and given up. But I'm an American and I never give up. Instead, I choose to show courage and stand up and fight for the country I love. Today, I am asking you to stand with me and to fight for our country's future.
Our country faces enormous challenges and our next president must be ready to lead on day one. My lifetime of experience has prepared me to lead our great nation. I'm prepared to bring solutions to our economic challenges, bring our troops home in victory and improve our nation's healthcare system.
Time and time again, my country has saved my life and I owe her more than she has ever owed me. I have chosen to show my gratitude through a life of service to our country and tomorrow, you will have a choice before you.
I humbly ask you to make the choice that will allow me to serve my country a little while longer by casting your vote to elect me as your next President of the United States.
Finally, I ask that you never forget that much has been sacrificed to protect our right to vote. We must never forget those Americans who, with their courage, with their sacrifice, and with their lives, have protected our freedom. It is my great hope that you will exercise your right to vote as an American tomorrow.
I thank you for your kind support, your dedication to our cause, and most importantly I thank you for your vote.
With sincere appreciation,