The current economic crisis is just a symptom of what really keeps me up at night–the trade deficit. Here’s a really clear explanation of it:
Through the quarter-century in which China has been opening to world trade, Chinese leaders have deliberately held down living standards for their own people and propped them up in the United States. This is the real meaning of the vast trade surplusâ€”$1.4 trillion and counting, going up by about $1 billion per dayâ€”that the Chinese government has mostly parked in U.S. Treasury notes. In effect, every person in the (rich) United States has over the past 10 years or so borrowed about $4,000 from someone in the (poor) Peopleâ€™s Republic of China.
And why it keeps me up at night:
Like so many imbalances in economics, this one canâ€™t go on indefinitely, and therefore wonâ€™t. But the way it endsâ€”suddenly versus gradually, for predictable reasons versus during a panicâ€”will make an enormous difference to the U.S. and Chinese economies over the next few years, to say nothing of bystanders in Europe and elsewhere.
The issue is finally going mainstream. See this Time Magazine article.