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October 20th 2008

Beware of Overconfidence in the Dollar

The word "confidence" has become ubiquitous when talking about the credit crisis. Policymakers talk casually about the lack of confidence and offer solutions for its restoration. But wasn’t it a surplus of confidence that was responsible for the credit crisis? Banks confidently extended loans to less-than-credit-worthy borrowers, who confidently took on more debt than they could repay, which was then confidently repackaged and underwritten by Wall Street, and sold to unassuming Central Banks abroad, who confidently believed that the Dollar was tantamount to gold. Ironically, their confidence has been (falsely) confirmed by the recent Dollar rally, as investors flocked to the eye of the global financial storm because of the perceived safety of investing in the US. If confidence is indeed restored, it will not be cheap, as the US government bailout will probably be highly inflationary. Central Banks may soon catch on and realize that if they are to continue financing an annualized current account imbalance of $700 Billion, they will need to be compensated accordingly. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Our foreign creditors accepted dollars in payment for their goods and services — and then obligingly invested the same dollars in America’s own securities. It’s as if the money never left the 50 states.

Read More: The Confidence Game

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Posted by Adam Kritzer | in Politics & Policy, US Dollar | No Comments »

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