Steve Forbes to China: 'Trading, Not Hoarding,' Leads to Prosperity

Wednesday, 05 Mar 2014 04:06 PM

By John Morgan

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China's huge holdings of U.S. government debt is not a threat, but rather a sign China is becoming more dependent on America and the rest of the world for its economic growth, according to Steve Forbes.

The chairman of Forbes Media, in an opinion column in his eponymous magazine, explained that China itself could be harmed if it tried to use its estimated $1.3 trillion in U.S. Treasury holdings to manipulate America.

"If we and Beijing ever engaged in mortal confrontation, how much would China's holdings in American government bonds be worth if we said the paper was no longer valid? Beijing is a hostage to our willingness to honor these obligations."

Editor’s Note:
These 38 Dates Are Key to Bagging $313,038

According to Forbes, the fact China has piled up $3.8 trillion in foreign currency reserves means its capital markets are still "primitive."

Those giant currency reserves are being held by the central government rather than being distributed to banks, insurance companies or private funds that would invest it to create new businesses, he noted.

The bottom line, according to Forbes, is this: "Trading, not hoarding, makes for a powerful economy."

Even if China did decide to quickly jettison its horde of Treasurys, it would be unlikely to damage the United States in any lasting way, according to Forbes' scenario.

"There are trillions of dollars' worth of financial securities scattered around the world, and smart asset buyers would gobble up Treasurys if they thought they were underpriced."

China is now tied into the global monetary system, and so is rowing in the same boat as its neighbors and rivals, Forbes added.

"If China did sell Treasurys, it would be paid in dollars. Then what? Would it dump the dollars for, say, yen or euros? The European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan, not to mention the Fed, could take countermeasures if they so desired, to make sure currency ratios didn't get out of line."

The South China Morning Post reported China's rapidly growing foreign reserves may mask internal problems.

The rise in reserves could be a sign of tight credit conditions and an inability by mainland Chinese companies to obtain external funding, Daiwa Capital Markets' Kevin Lai told the paper.

The fact that China — and also Japan — have added to their Treasury positions means those nations are not worried about a rise in long-term U.S. interest rates, which is a possibility that has concerned many bond investors, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Editor’s Note: These 38 Dates Are Key to Bagging $313,038

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