Krugman, China, Finance
Here’s the quandary that the U.S. economy is in: The Fed’s quantitative easing policy– creating more liquidity so that banks can lend more – aims at helping the economy “borrow its way out of debt.” But banks are not lending more, for the simple reason that a third of U.S. real estate already is in negative equity, while small and medium-sized businesses (which have created most of the new jobs in America for the past few decades) have seen their preferred collateral (real estate and sales orders) shrink. How can banks be expected to lend more to re-inflate the economy’s asset prices while wages and consumer prices continue to drift down? The “real” economy as a whole therefore must shrink.
What has made the argument over Fed policy so important over the past week is a series of exchanges between Republicans and Democrats. The deteriorating situation prompted a group of Republican economists and political strategists to publish an open letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke criticizing the Fed’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE2), flooding the economy with liquidity spilling over into foreign exchange markets to push the dollar’s exchange rate down. True enough, as far as this criticism goes. But it only scratches the surface.
Enter Paul Krugman, one of the most progressive defenders of Democratic Party policy. His New York Times op-eds usually rebut Republican advocacy for Wall Street and corporate interests. But he also indulges in China bashing. To “blame the foreigner” rather than the system is normally a right-wing response, yet Krugman blames China simply for trying to save itself from being victimized by the Wall Street policies he normally criticizes when labor is the prey. By blaming China, he not only lets the Federal Reserve Board and its Wall Street constituency off the hook, he blames virtually the entire world that confronted Obama’s financial nationalism with a united front in Seoul two weeks ago when he and his entourage received an almost unanimous slap in the face at the Group of 20 meetings.