Thursday, March 19, 2009

China to Reduce Exposure?

As they say, this is either a crisis or an opportunity:
There is mounting evidence that China's central bank is undertaking the process of divesting itself of longer-dated US Treasuries in favor of shorter-dated ones.
Sounds reaonsable to me. But how is this going to play out:
"That uncomfortably high level of exposure to the dollar is what has been causing concern to flare in China most recently. A much more desirable figure, from China's standpoint, of its total exposure to the dollar would be 50% or less of its total reserves. A reserve composition of 50% dollars to 50% everything else is much safer because an excessive decline in the value of the dollar would tend to be offset by corresponding increases against the dollar in the value of the non-dollar assets comprising the rest of the reserves.

In order to get to that more desirable composition fairly quickly over the next several months, China would have to somehow divest itself of as much as $450 billion of its existing dollar-denominated assets, not purchase a significant amount of new dollar-denominated assets, and accomplish all this without triggering a global dollar panic.
But, the final paragraphs echo my prognostication.
If the Treasuries bubble persists for much longer, and especially if it continues to mount, the massive and dangerous distortions in the global financial system and the Treasuries-induced strangulation of its credit markets will only become more severe, likely leading to a meltdown somewhere in the emerging markets, one of whose effects will almost certainly spread to engulf the severely weakened Western European and US financial sectors and plunge particularly the US economy into a deep depression, with potent negative effects upon the dollar.

Such an eventuality will tend to force global investors to evaluate the safe-haven appeal of the dollar based much more on the fundamentals of the US economy, and that will portend a stampede out of the dollar and a potentially chaotic bursting of the massive Treasuries bubble. Hence, even if the US finds buyers for its huge sums of new sovereign debt now beginning to flood the markets, the picture does not look good for the dollar beyond the short term.

Obviously, if the US reaches the point where it fails to find sufficient buyers for its new flood of Treasuries, that will also become a perilous situation for the dollar and for the huge Treasuries bubble, which will almost certainly burst as global investors seek better stores of wealth in hard assets, following the lead of China's central bank.

Either way, the US is engaged in the implementation of extremely risky and potent inflationary, dollar-debasing policies, making a loss of global confidence in the dollar in the short to medium term a virtual certainty. Even if the massive spending does restore economic growth, the US economy is likely to remain very weak for some time. That will make it extremely difficult for the US Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy to fight off the inevitable and potent inflation that will result from today's shortsighted policies.

When the Fed attempts to tighten, the US economy will likely be plunged into a second-round recession or depression, with obviously awful effects upon the dollar. But if the Fed fails to tighten sufficiently and quickly, runaway inflation will ravage the currency anyway.

Prudent, forward-looking Chinese officials have clearly assessed the entire situation as one demanding careful but swift action to ensure that its huge reserves are not imperiled by what has obviously become an untenable global rush into an unstable and perilous dollar bubble.
Time to short the dollar and the treasuries?

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