Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Investors are not charitable organizations

The United States has been financing itself by leaning heavily on foreigners, particularly China, Japan and the oil-rich nations of the Persian Gulf.

Obviously, this is going to come to an end. Foreigners are not charitable organizations, and they're going to demand that we pay them back.

No single country owning large amounts of dollar-based investments is inclined to dump them abruptly; nobody aims to start a panic. But fears have begun to grow that one day a country may get spooked that another is about to dump its dollars--and that could trigger pre-emptive panic selling.

The U.S. government offers its rescue of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage companies, and foreigners keep stocking the government's coffers. But all the while, the debt mounts along with the costs of an ultimate day of reckoning. Debate grows about the wisdom of leaning on foreign credit, and about how much longer Americans will retain the privilege of spending and investing money that isn't really theirs.

[Excerpt of an article by Peter S. Goodman, NY Times]

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