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Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Greenback is Red-backed

Brad Setser returns to a favourite theme, China's investment in the US. If I can summarise:

1. China buys American bonds directly, but also via the UK. Practically all the UK's purchases are on behalf of China.

2. American government bonds are either Treasuries (debts of the government of the USA) or Agencies (debts of US States and local government). Concerned about risk, China has recently been selling Agencies to buy Treasuries, because the latter are backed by the Federal Government.

3. China will continue to invest in the US, because this keeps up demand for the dollar and so keeps down the Chinese currency, the Renminbi. This means that Chinese exports to America will remain very competitive in terms of price.

4. China's continuing support will stop the US dollar from collapsing in the world currency market, as many have feared. Other countries who are also running a trade deficit and need financing, have much more reason to worry.

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