Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rating the U.S. and S&P

It is tempting to gloat. "Told ya!", our minds scream while we sip our caramelised teh tarik to wash down the roti canai at our favourite warung.

It is an ugly, awful spectacle that has unfolded in the U.S.

For those of us of a certain vintage, our minds may have wandered to the possible range of sarcastic remarks that our dear erstwhile leader, Dr M would have spewed at the frail, fratricide that is unfolding in the democratic political process that the U.S. has so earnestly and ideologically promoted over the past century.

Our minds would also have wandered back to the difficult, challenging insults and invective hurled against Malaysia in the despairing days of 1998.

Every orang utan has its day.

We have now witnessed a troubled giant continue an implosion that started in November 2008.

Flashback to 1998. They said that we, in Malaysia, were in denial.

Flash forward to 2008 and, again, to 2011. We see the U.S. printing money to support its government's pump-priming efforts since 2008. They don;t call it "pump-priming", of course. It's nebulously called "Quantitative Easing".

Mind you, I'm not gloating. I'm not gleeful.

These are troubling times.

The U.S. is finding that the pump-priming is not working at the level of Main Street. The pump-priming appears to have only favoured Wall Street and selected Fortune 500 corporations. The average U.S. worker is in economic danger. 

The U.S. Congress is practising partisanship politics in a leaking vessel. The U.S. President is floundering in a hamstrung attempt to lead on a populist line. They call it brinksmanship.

The unkindest blow came when Standard & Poor downrated the U.S. economy, ironically, because of the political chicanery that took the U.S. Government to the brink of bankruptcy (many say it is already bankrupt anyway...or, at least, technically insolvent).

This meandering post is meant to lead to one point. 

I am impressed with how quickly the U.S. eco-system rallies around a perceived threat. This time the threat comes from within. It comes from the S&P downrating.

The amount of criticism heaped at S&P from the U.S. politicians, media commentators and intelligentsia is quite breathtaking.

This leads me to the second point.

Who's the conductor in this cacophonic symphony?

Is it a grouping of vested interests who have designed the greatest economic coup imaginable?

Might the coup be the sovereign default on U.S. Treasury Bills to the extreme detriment of China? (Japan, South Korea and the others will be collateral damage)

This would be one way to re-boot the downward spiralling U.S. economy.

The other would be war.

Think about it.

1 comment:

walla said...

Good post. If China cashes its US treasuries today, the US govt will return capital invested less about USD300 Billion. The moment the money changes hands, the dollar will drop another ten percent in value. That's a twenty percent margin loss when the poor manufacturer makes maybe three percent on his ex-factory sale. Six hundred billion dollars can buy a helluva lot of assets, not to say save millions of lives, even change the world's food industry.

So China basically paid for US consumerism over the last twenty years which enabled the US to keep its reputation as market of the world.

No one will do business with a guaranteed certified twenty percent loss. And that is the situation this morning.

Meanwhile Pemandu will need to quickly review all projections and Treasury all commitments. It's going to be an extremely rocky ride ahead. Our SMEs will have to renetwork to work out what whammies may a'come.