Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Credit Crisis and China

There's no consensus on what the credit crisis is going to end up doing to China, though the predictions are getting bleaker. Yes, they have $1.9 trillion in reserves; no, they don't have an economy without exports.

In Chinese the written symbol for crisis is a compound character composed of "danger" and "opportunity". I'm really trying to think of the silver lining to this economic mess that can be used to build bonds between the two governments that give the U.S. leverage on issues of individual freedom - on things like freedom of speech and free elections that we take for granted in the West. In the post-rendition era, the U.S. already has a hard time convincing even third-rate developing-world dictators we're serious about human rights; it will be even more difficult to put pressure on China when we owe them 1.5 trillion dollars. Five grand of that is your share.

I've written on this blog before about U.S. and China maneuvering in Africa to get at metal commodities, but it's becoming clear that China might win the oil game too. Remember that "the oil will pay for the war" argument in Iraq? Iraq just signed its first oil deal with a foreign country since 2003 - with, who else? China National Petroleum.


Mike said...

There's an old saying: If you owe the bank $100 it's your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million that's the banks problem.

It's been nice that the Chicomms have been willing to buy our debt. They can't really sell it enmass as that would depress the price and they'd lose even more money. Going forward I'm not sure what'll happen.

May you live in interesting times.

Thomas Paine Jr. said...

Indeed. The one certainty in these times is their interesting-ness, for better or worse.