Opinion: Geithner Is Exactly Wrong on China Trade

Bret Swanson writes in The Wall Street Journal that incoming Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who recently accused China of manipulating its currency, has things backwards:

The new consensus is that America failed to react to the building trade deficit with China and the global “savings glut,” which fueled our housing boom. A “passive” America allowed China to steal jobs from the U.S. while Americans binged with undervalued Chinese funny money.

This diagnosis is backwards. America did not underreact to the supposed Chinese threat. It overreacted. The problem wasn’t “global imbalances” but a purposeful dollar imbalance. Our weak-dollar policy, intended to pump up U.S. manufacturing and close the trade gap, backfired. Currency chaos led to a $30 trillion global crash, an energy shock, bank and auto failures, and possibly a new big government era. For globalization and American innovation to survive, we must first understand the Chinese story and our own monetary mistakes.

We’ve heard the refrain: China’s rapid growth was a mirage. China was stealing wealth by “manipulating” its currency. But in fact China’s rise was based on dramatic decentralization and sound money.

January 26, 2009 3:48 PM
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