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By Bob Blandeburgo
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is once again traveling abroad to assure foreign nations that their investments in the United States are safe But this time it's not China he's trying to assure; it's another large supporter of the dollar: Saudi Arabia.
While inflation has held steady in the face of increasing budget deficits, the purpose of Geithner's multinational tour will be to repeat assurances that such deficits will not trigger a strong bout of inflation and in turn sink the value of the dollar and foreign holdings. Last month, Geithner was in China – the largest holder of U.S. treasuries – to make the same assurances.
Geithner reiterated the Obama administration's commitment to protecting the value of the dollar and maintaining investor confidence in the U.S. financial system in an interview broadcast on CNN's"Freed Zakaria GPS."
"A strong dollar is in the interest of the United States. Of course, I deeply believe that," Geithner said. "Our commitment … to the world and of course, the American people, is to make sure we'll put in place the policies that can sustain confidence in this economy and this financial system."
While rising unemployment – well beyond what the Obama administration expected – is prompting talk of a second stimulus package, Geither said it's too soon for that. Only 11% of the $308 billion stimulus funds allocated to discretionary programs will be spent in the current fiscal year, and only half by the end of fiscal 2010, Money Morning reported last week.
"I don't think that's [deciding on a second stimulus is] a judgment we need to make now," Geithner said Sunday on the CNN program. "We can't really make it prudently or responsibly."
Assurances from the man in charge of the world's largest economy are important to those whom have invested in it, but several economists believe the Obama administration needs to do more to address worries about U.S. deficits.
Geithner will also discuss with officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates the lack of stability of oil prices, which rallied about 115% to $73 a barrel after falling below $34 a barrel in February. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) last week said it will hold a series of hearings this month and in August to determine whether or not it should place new limits on energy futures contracts.
There's a good chance that the United States and other economies will start growing again, Geithner said in a Reuters interview.
"In my view there are significant risks and challenges ahead," he said. "We have a very powerful set of policies in place, coming on stream. I think there is a very good chance we will see the U.S. economy and the world economy get back to recovery, get growing again, over the next few quarters."
News and Related Story Links:
- Money Morning:
Geithner Opens Up Debt Dialogue With China, but the Dollar Still May be Doomed
Freed Zakaria GPS Interview with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
- Money Morning:
With Unemployment Soaring, Will the U.S. Require a Second Stimulus?
- The Associated Press:
- Money Morning:
Speculators Feel the Heat as Demand for Tighter Regulation of Oil Contracts Rises
U.S., UK See Growth Resuming But Big Risks Ahead