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As the United States continues to spar with China on currency issues and Greece has yet to make substantial strides toward recovery, U.S. taxpayers and investors fear that our country is headed for worse economic times. Despite the fact there's a financial reform bill on the horizon, there is overwhelming doubt that the government will implement as much of a financial system overhaul that's needed.
Here are some of the more passionate views on the government mistakes that caused a U.S. financial quagmire, threatening the country's future stability.
And so are the institutional investors I've run into during my latest investment-research visit to this country. These institutional players want to lock up some valuable land parcels before 2020. That's the date by which 500 million Chinese citizens are expected to have moved into China's cities as part of the greatest urban migration ever recorded.
You can do the math: We're talking about a group that's 1.6 times the entire U.S. population ... moving from China's countryside to its cities in the next 10 years.
After Obama urged China to move toward a "more market-oriented exchange rate," Hu told him that his country wouldn't yield to "external pressure" in deciding when to adjust the yuan, Bloomberg News reported.
Obama also expressed "his concern" about some "market- access barriers in China," Jeff Bader, senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, told reporters after the meeting, which was held in conjunction with a gathering of world leaders in Washington to discuss nuclear security.
The Obama administration's assertion that China is artificially keeping the yuan undervalued to gain a global competitive advantage isn't just misguided: It actually demonstrates that Washington lacks even a basic understanding of global economics. Given that the same U.S. leaders who have been pushing to hang this manipulator label on China and impose sanctions are the same ones who tried to end the financial crisis by creating a river of debt that will haunt us for years, I can't say that I'm surprised.
As the U.S. argument goes, pegging its currency to the dollar gives China a distinct advantage when it comes to less-expensive manufacturing and a strong export market. The implication is that somehow this is negatively impacting our economy, or - in a variation of the same logic - holding back our recovery. Washington points to the massive trade deficits we regularly run with that country as evidence of China's currency-market wrongdoing.
In reality, China's pegged currency has done two things. First, it's allowed the United States to keep its inflation rate at a much lower (and more-manageable) level than it should have been in view of the $14 trillion in debt that this country has taken on.
And, second, it's allowed China to fuel its own stimulus package while at the same time assuming a meaningful role in the ongoing global recovery.
Some 3.52 million cars were sold in China in the January-March period, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The strong showing was partly the result of weak 2009 sales but it was enough to convince carmakers to raise their regional sales forecasts.
General Motors Corp., which leans heavily on its joint venture Shanghai General Motors Co. Ltd., said it would hit its target of 2 million sales in China this year, putting the company four years ahead of schedule.
The stars of the global capital show this month, though, have been markets in China and Europe, as they shook off their multi-month torpor to score big wins. With a scorching 6% advance in the past two weeks, ishares FTSE Xinhua China 25 Index (NYSE: FXI) nosed up to log a +5.5% gain for the year after being negative for three months. And the ishares S&P Europe 350 Index (NYSE: IEV) rose 1%, putting it at flat for the year after malingering below zero.
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Rising commodity prices probably led imports to outpace exports by $390 million in March after a $7.6 billion trade surplus the previous month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 26 economists.
Nevertheless, a change in China's currency policy is "imminent", and may occur in the next few weeks, Ben Simpfendorfer, a Hong Kong- based economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (NYSE ADR: RBS), said Friday on Bloomberg Television.
The unexpected meeting was arranged on-the-fly after Geithner's scheduled trip to India, and may be a sign that both countries are seeking to defuse the currency issue ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao's trip to Washington next week.
The move follows the Treasury Department's decision last weekend to delay a decision on whether to label China a "currency manipulator."
"[China is] becoming more open to the world, and with that, you're going to see the [yuan] take on a broader role internationally," Geithner said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Mumbai as he finished preparations for the previously unscheduled visit to China. "That's a healthy, necessary adjustment."
And that could also crater the bond market in the process.
To find out how you could protect yourself if foreign creditors ditch the dollar read on...
So why is it that more U.S. businesses feel less welcome in China now than they did four years ago?
The fact is that in the past four years, China's economy has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, while a humiliating financial collapse and soaring debt have tarnished much of the shine that once adorned the U.S. market.
Indeed, for the first time in perhaps more than a century China has the upper hand. How long that will last is a difficult question to answer, but right now, China wants to use its leverage to support domestic companies - and it's doing so unapologetically.
- Loose Monetary Policy
- Growing Demand in Emerging Markets
- And the Congruent Devaluations of Major CurrenciesWe've already profited from this inflationary trend in the Money Map VIP Trader. And - just like I did with the broadband revolution - today I am presenting you with a stock that stands to benefit from these developments - BHP Billiton Ltd. (NYSE ADR: BHP).
Both clean energy companies and a skilled workforce are heading overseas, where government policies are creating a more welcoming and promising market for clean energy products.
Take Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar, Inc (Nasdaq: ESLR). In 2008, it used $58 million in government aid to open a new Massachusetts factory to build silicon wafers and cells and assemble solar panels. But in November 2009, it announced the assembly of solar panels would be moved to Wuhan, China, where solar panel manufacturing will cost far less than in the United States.
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China's official Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to a seasonally adjusted 55.1 from 52 in February, according to Li & Fung Group, a Hong Kong-based company that releases data for the Federation of Logistics and Purchasing. It marked the 13th straight month the index showed expansion and was in line with the median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 13 economists. A reading above 50 indicates growth.
Another PMI for China released by HSBC Holdings PLC (NYSE ADR: HBC) was even more positive, showing a rise to 57.0 in March from 55.8 in February.