Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Paper Dragon is getting restless...

Interesting article below. It confirms my suspicions that China is in far more trouble than it is officially letting on. It is still "growing" only according to its own dubious statistics that a decreasing number of market participants believe are accurate. The incentives are there to fudge the numbers and inject whatever capital is needed into favored zombie banks...without any transparency or knowledge by the rest of the world...especially its own citizens.

"A sharpening urgency" indeed.

SHANGHAI (AP) -- The only major economy still growing at a fast clip, China is being unusually forthright in challenging the U.S.-led global order ahead of an April 2 summit on the financial crisis.

In his second rebuke of U.S. leadership this past week, the central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, said China's rapid response to the downturn -- including a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package -- proved the superiority of its authoritarian, one-party political system.

"Facts speak volumes, and demonstrate that compared with other major economies, the Chinese government has taken prompt, decisive and effective policy measures, demonstrating its superior system advantage when it comes to making vital policy decisions," Zhou said in remarks posted on the People's Bank of China's Web site.

In the approach to the London summit of 20 leading economies, Zhou called on foreign governments to give their finance ministers and central bankers broad authority so that they can "act boldly and expeditiously without having to go through a lengthy or even painful approval process."

China has made its agenda clear: It wants a stable U.S. dollar, and has even advocated the creation of another global currency altogether. It is leery of protectionism. And it is demanding a larger say in how financial systems are regulated and rescued, while holding back on any promises for new rescue or stimulus measures of its own.

"So far, China has been playing a game set up by other powers. Now China wants to be part of the agenda or rules-setting," said Ding Xueliang, a China expert at Hong Kong's University of Science and Technology.

Whether Beijing has a workable alternative vision for the future of world finance remains to be seen.

But China's growing assertiveness also suggests a sharpening urgency over its vulnerability to the global financial meltdown.

Fearful of any moves that might weaken the dollar and imperil China's estimated $1 trillion in Treasuries and other U.S. government debt, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has urged the United States to remain "a credible nation." In other words, Beijing wants Washington to avoid spurring inflation with excessive government spending on bailouts and stimulus packages.

To keep the value of its own currency steady -- some say undervalued -- the Chinese government must recycle its huge trade surpluses. The biggest, most liquid option is U.S. Treasuries. But a weakening dollar saps the value of those investments.

The Chinese "are being hurt more than anyone else by the mismanagement of the dollar," said William Overholt, an expert with Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Underscoring that grievance, earlier this week Zhou, the central bank governor, called for a new global currency to end the dollar's dominance in trade, foreign reserves and commodity pricing.

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