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Monday, November 10, 2003

Stephen Roach and the New Paradigm

Stephen Roach puts his finger on something important here. These global imbalances, especially the ones which revolve around the structural role of the US dollar as a reserve currency seem ominously looming. If the dollar ever should 'unwind' there is going to be one very big problem. Perhaps this is the coiled spring Snow was referring to recently.

The current New Paradigm goes something like this: Global imbalances don’t matter. Never mind, America’s unprecedented current account deficit -- let alone massive current-account surpluses in Asia. Pay no heed to the shaky foundations of a saving-short US economy and its runaway federal government budget deficit that lies at the heart of America’s massive external imbalance. Don’t worry about the ever-rising overhang of private sector indebtedness in the US, especially for the household sector. This is what the New World Order is all about. America is supposed to consume beyond its means, as those means are delineated by the economy’s domestic income-generating capacity. Awash in surplus saving, a demand-deficient rest of the world will gladly finance America’s gaping external imbalance -- and will do so willingly and in a relatively costless fashion. The result will be open-ended foreign demand for dollar-denominated assets. US Treasuries -- the most riskless segment of this superior asset class -- will benefit the most. That will keep US interest rates low, providing even more support to American aggregate demand. In a unipolar world, the dollar -- the world’s reserve currency -- can’t fall. After all, what other currency could rise?
Source: Morgan Stanley GEF

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