Thursday, September 25, 2008

China Central Bank Advisor: "Why are we piling up these IOUs if they may default?"

Naked Capitalism via Bloomberg:

It has been conventional wisdom that China, Japan, and other countries that run trade surpluses with the US, which means they fund our overconsumption by buying assets like US Treauries, would never restrict the flow of credit to us because it would lower their exports and hurt their growth. We've long been leery of the idea that unsustainable trends will have a life eternal, and Brad Setser has a simple reason why this process is self-limiting. Our foreign funding sources aren't just lending us money to buy their goods; they are also providing the funding for interest on the loans extended for past imports. At a certain point, the interest payments become so large relative to the value of the exports that the deal no longer makes sense.

The day of reckoning may be approaching well before Setser's tipping point. And the trigger is much simpler. We look like a lousy risk. The Freddie/Fannie conservatorship, the Lehman bankrutpcy, and the rescue of fallen Asian powerhouse AIG has, not surprisingly, lead to a reassessment of the US's creditworthiness
Just how large is Asian exposure?

Thus, the need for an agreement to prevent panic sales (I wonder if an Asian "T-Bill" bailout fund is next):

Japan, China and other holders of U.S. government debt must quickly reach an agreement to prevent panic sales leading to a global financial collapse, said Yu Yongding...."We are in the same boat, we must cooperate," Yu said in an interview in Beijing on Sept. 23. ``If there's no selling in a panicked way, then China willingly can continue to provide our financial support by continuing to hold U.S. assets.''

Yu said China is helping the U.S. ``in a very big way'' and added that it should get something in return.