Tag Archives: QE2

04/02/2011 Dispelling harmful myths about the need of a weaker currency

No other economic topic is more confusing and has been least properly understood by the public than the exchange rate system. Politicians love to use it for the opportunistic advantage it offers to blame foreigners for their fellow countrymen’s failure to economically compete. Academics love to use it to make a point for a half baked truth.

They may all have a point. The problem is that the points will all have only half of the truth. The politicians’ opponents and the academic’s rivals could all be right at the same time since there are always two sides to an exchange rate’s impact on the economy more like there are always two sides of a coin. More often than not it is completely futile to make an argument on what is better to have, a stronger exchange rate or a weaker exchange rate, for a specific short term purpose.

For short term purposes, when a country’s currency is stronger it is good for the assets and when it is weaker it is good for the country’s liabilities. A weaker exchange rate may help stimulate the domestic economy by creating more foreign demands for its commodities and goods but it will cause a permanent wholesale destruction of the country’s aggregate wealth in the global market place. A stronger currency may serve to slow down its domestic economic activities and hence lower inflationary pressure by reducing foreign demand but it may create permanent wholesale advantage and sudden increased wealth for every one of its citizens.

Over the long run, a country with a stronger currency commands confidence and respect of every human being on earth, could easily afford to develop more leading edge scientific discoveries and engineering monuments, let alone a much stronger military defence force. It also naturally speaks much louder in global politics, attracts top talents to migrate and work for it to further enhance its competitiveness. Therefore the strength of a country’s exchange rate is really a report card of its government’s performance, as fully discussed in my prior blog post on 10/15/2010, “Foreign exchange rate is the competency report card of a government’s ability to manage a country’s economy”.

So next time you read an op-ed commentary, hear a comment by a guest speaker on TV, or study an academic paper arguing for weaker currency, perhaps you would like to find out whether the person has a political agenda trying to spin a story to confuse the public or perhaps he/she is simply a complete moron.

Hoping to gain short term export advantage to create temporary transient job opportunities instead of focusing the collective efforts on increasing longer term productivity or economic competitiveness by promoting diligence, hard working ethics and/or innovations will simply continue the wholesale destruction of our country’s wealth and eventually reduce us from a major league super power to a little league weenie power.

10/15/2010 Foreign exchange rate is the competency report card of a government’s ability to manage a country’s economy

It is quite a amazing how the current Administration of our government has tried and almost accomplished the goal of brainwashing or duping the American public into believing a lower US Dollar value is good for us. They even got many financially illiterate politicians (Congressmen) to sing their tunes with them.

Try to imagine that your kid comes home back from school with a D on his report card, argues with you and tries to brainwash you that an F should be better so that he would be able to compete with other more diligent and industrious kids? Furthermore he complains that the rules need to be changed so that the other kids should not study hard and instead should be playing more like he does? He calls the bad grades on his report card a “manipulation” by those hard working kids. He even labels those industrious kids “Grade Manipulators”.

The simple truth is that a lower exchange rate would produce the immediate wholesale sell-off of a country’s wealth in the global marketplace, not increasing any genuine economic competitiveness. Economic competitiveness is produced through productivity and innovations, not by artificially altering exchange rate so that incompetent politicians could cosmetically buy some more time to hang on to their jobs a bit longer.

Competent governments in managing the country’s economy will be rewarded with a stronger currency and hence increased national wealth. Responsible and hardworking citizens under an incompetent government, on the other hand, will lose their personal wealth instantly in the global marketplace when their national currency is devaluated, no matter how hard they may have worked individually.

There is no quicker way to make the US lose its position as the No. 1 economy of the world and its associated super power status than de-valuating the US dollars. Foreigners with a stronger currency would then be able to buy our treasured assets in a fire sale. In addition, with a weak currency, the US would not be able to compete in the global marketplace to buy commodities such as crude oils, rare earth materials, gold, silver, platinum, food, crops, other raw materials etc. The cost to produce manufactured goods in America will be getting harder and harder as well as more and more costly. It will make the US lose even more economic competitiveness and get our country in a downward spinning vicious cycle. The list of the potential problems and disasters goes on and on …

Perhaps it is time that the parents sit down with their kids for a serious talk?

P.S. I made a keynote speech for ISDA’s Annual General Meeting held in Singapore back in March 2006 regarding the China’s role in the global financial market. In that speech I spoke about the exchange rate issues. The points are still quite valid. Here are the links to the presentation and the speech video.

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