A good lead editorial in today’s Washington Post, acknowledging the temptation to dismiss the G-20 confab in Pittsburgh as another “multilateral gabfest,” but finding merit in President Obama’s message about “rebalancing” the global economy. From “Balancing Act — Mr. Obama’s wise message for the Group of 20“:
His interest in a “framework for sustainable and balanced growth” is rooted in reality: For many years, Germany, Japan and China have grown by producing more than they consume and by exporting their goods to the United States, which has chronically consumed more than it produces. Oil-exporting nations have had a similar unbalanced relationship with the United States. The result is exporters’ accumulation of dollar reserves and their investment in the United States — subject to occasional bubbles and busts, an especially damaging example of which we have just experienced. You could say that the recession, which has spurred a major increase in U.S. household savings, was nature’s way of smoothing out these imbalances — albeit at tremendous financial and human cost.
U.S. consumers will need years to recover from the impact — and may never again drive global growth as they have in the recent past. It is therefore in both this country’s interest and that of its trading partners to adjust their growth models. The United States must save a bit more and become less dependent on imports; Germany, Japan and China must consume a bit more and reduce their export dependence. As Mr. Obama told CNN on Sunday: “We can’t go back to the era where the Chinese or the Germans or other countries just are selling everything to us, we’re taking out a bunch of credit card debt or home equity loans, but we’re not selling anything to them.”
Agreed. The test for the Administration is to match its wise message with wise action. We’ve yet to see much action to support U.S. exports, such as pushing Congress to enact the pending free trade agreemens with Colombia, Panama or South Korea. And some of the proposed tax policies — ending deferral, for example — would undermine U.S. global investment.
Then there’s this from Reuters, “U.S. issues $7 trillion debt, supply to stabilize“: “NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. government will have issued $7 trillion in bonds by the time the current fiscal year ends next week, but it expects the debt deluge to stabilize by mid 2010, a Treasury official said on Wednesday.”
All this government borrowing, all the government spending, doesn’t it invite inflation? Americans aren’t going to save more if they anticipate rising inflation.
(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.)
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