China, treasuries and fearmongering

July 9, 2009

I argued three months ago that China couldn’t possibly dump their treasuries, even as pundits and analysts in the financial channels kept scaring the bejesus out of everyone.

So I was very happy to hear Roger Altman last night say that:

CHARLIE ROSE: Pete Peterson … also talked about the fact that the Chinese hold so much of our debt. Is that going to change, and are they going to change it?

ROGER ALTMAN: A, they’re clearly concerned about it, about the
concentration risk that they have. B, their options for changing it are relatively few, and there’s no scenario in which they can change it quickly. There just isn’t.

CHARLIE ROSE: They’d have to take that money and find another place
to invest it as well, without destroying the American economy.

ROGER ALTMAN: It would be self-defeating to act quickly. Therefore,
any diversification which the Chinese pursue — and they will — will be
slow and gradual. And the risk that so many people talk about, I think
very loosely, you know, the Chinese may, quote, dump the dollar or flee the
dollar. That’s misguided, I think.

CHARLIE ROSE: Because it’s not in their interest.

ROGER ALTMAN: It’s not in their interest and it’s not possible to do
it. So, it’s not a good thing for over the long term, as President Obama
himself said, for China to be — for us to be the consumer and China to be
the lender and have it exponentially grow as it’s been. We have to stop
that. But China’s not going to make — take self-destructive action, and
dumping the dollar or quickly trying to exit the dollar would be very self-
destructive, and they’re way too smart for that.

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