Originally published October 24 2008
China Now Pulling the Strings on U.S. Financial Policy
by Barbara L. Minton
(NaturalNews) The Times Square National Debt Clock, that unpleasant reminder of our national embarrassment, needs to be replaced. Since 1989 the clock has been tallying up all the money owed by the U.S. government. As of October 21, 2008, the outstanding national debt of the United States of America was $10,468,455,924,657.18 and mounting by the minute. In September, the dollar sign was removed to make way for an extra digit, as the national debt blew through $10 trillion and became a 14 digit disgrace. A new clock is on the drawing board that will allow for the reporting of a quadrillion dollars of debt. Anyone passing by the clock has got to wonder to whom all this money is owed, and what it means to the world standing of the country that the U.S. is in hock up to its eyeballs.
Currently, foreigners hold over $2.5 trillion of this U.S. government debt, mostly in Treasury securities. The largest foreign holders of these securities are Asian countries, primarily China and Japan. The Chinese Economic Review has confirmed that major Chinese banks own $8 billion in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities that were the targets of the bailout provisions. The Bank of China also holds $5.2 billion in mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by Freddie and Fannie. With the recent Wall Street bailout that sent the rise in the national debt absolutely parabolic, people are beginning to speculate as to whether this bailout is the result of pressure put on the U.S. by the Chinese and other Asian countries to get its financial house in order. This pressure may be behind the inclusion of foreign banks in the bailout.
The Chinese and other Asian countries now "own" the U.S. to such an extent that it is no longer free to determine a financial policy that would be in the country's best interests. Instead, it as in the position of being yanked around by its creditors who are not willing to be left holding the bag as the U.S. fiddles along and lets its financial system disintegrate. It is becoming apparent to many that these creditors decided to jerk the chain of the U.S. and insist that it shore up the system in which they hold such a vested interest. This is why a bailout was suddenly announced, and why it had to be railroaded through the Congress and Senate with no deference to the arguments of elected officials or the will of the citizenry.
Speculation is that at the same time that Treasury Secretary Paulson was twisting the arms of Congressmen, his own arm was being twisted by those higher up in the global financial chain. It may have been the vision of what would happen if the foreign banks decided to turn off the credit spigot to the U.S. that made him look so pale and haggard during the Congressional hearing. And he may have used this ghoulish, pre-Halloween vision to scare Congress into voting for his plan.
Without this bailout, most of the underlying assets of the country still would have had value on Main Street, and would have been the basis of a recovery after things settled out on Wall Street. The free market we claim to value so highly always works it out in the end. What needs to sink would sink, and then we would move on. But free market principals carry no weight in Beijing. The Chinese have no interest on our Main Street. They have no respect for free market principles any more than they respect the principles of a free society. They don't believe in the salutary effect of bankruptcy punishing those who made bad decisions, especially when they are the ones who stand to suffer the consequences of those bad decisions. All they care about is that their position as Big Daddy to the U.S. credit markets is protected.
People with a tendency to wonder also want to know why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were declared "too big to fail". Looking back only a short period of time reveals many large companies that have collapsed, companies that were the largest in their areas.
Look at Enron. This company, hailed as the most innovative company in American for six years in a row, created an over the counter trading market for electricity, natural gas, communications services and many other commodities. What the NYSE and the NASDAQ do for stock trading, Enron did for the utilities and telecommunications companies. When it went down in 2001, it took a lot of people with it including Arthur Anderson, one of the largest accounting firms in the U.S. Why wasn't it too big to fail?
And what about Worldcom? This telecom giant was the darling of everyone on Wall Street and held in almost every mutual fund and individual account in America. When it went collapsed in 2002, everybody was crying. Why wasn't it too big to fail?
Enron and Worldcom both went bankrupt and the people who ran them were sent to jail. The companies were allowed to fail, and after the dust settled, life went on. We still had the internet, gas and electricity, and telecom services. Businesses still got their accounting done.
Why? Because the underlying assets of those businesses still existed and were dispersed into the market. Enron sold all of its assets. Worldcom emerged from bankruptcy and was bought by Verizon. Employees from Arthur Anderson found other jobs, and the crooks that had been in control of these companies got what they deserved. As a nation, we were cleansed and life went on.
But now that China is running the financial show, the U.S. can no longer depend on natural market forces to expedite it through rough times. Now the country is no different than its citizens who have run up huge debts and are now at the mercy of their creditors. The U.S. now dances to a Chinese tune.
About the authorBarbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.
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