Sunday, 7 August 2011

GFC2's Impact on Australia

GFC2 is here. The US and Europe are piling on more and more debt and many investors are skeptical about whether they can pay it off. Here in Australia, many seems to be optimistic. In The Melbourne Age, this piece Forget US Woes, China Keeps Our Economy Strong claims that the Australian economy does not rely on the US economy anymore and that the Chinese demand for our resources will keep our economy strong. According to the article, "40 per cent of China's exports went to the US in 2001. Now that figure is down about 20 per cent and falling..." This means that even if US consumers were to become too poor to afford Chinese imports, China has other countries it can export to.

But one area that bothers me is how much US debt China holds: US$1.2 trillion worth (source: NPR, China Blasts US over Credit Rating Downgrade). If the US is unable to pay off this massive debt and defaults, the US$5 trillion Chinese economy will have a substantial amount of its wealth wiped out. This would have an enormous impact on the demand for Australian resources and hence the Australian economy. Even if the US were to avoid default by printing money, the outcome would be similar. The Americans would print money and hand these dollars to the Chinese. The printing of money will cause massive inflation thereby causing the American dollar to drop in value. Even though the Chinese hold US$1.2 trillion worth of US debt, if the US dollar is worthless then that will drop demand for Australian resources.

Many newspaper economists are going on about how China is now Australia's master and not the US. Be that as it may, these newspaper economists do not seem to give much description of the linkages between the US economy and the Chinese economy.

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