China: The 'good old days' of borrowing for US are over

This is hardly "inscrutable" from the usually opaque Chinese. It is a direct, straight from the shoulder overhand right to the jaw and warns of future miseries for the US economy.


China bluntly criticized the United States on Saturday one day after the superpower's credit rating was downgraded, saying the "good old days" of borrowing were over.

Standard & Poor's cut the U.S. long-term credit rating from top-tier AAA by a notch to AA-plus on Friday over concerns about the nation's budget deficits and climbing debt burden.

China -- the United States' biggest creditor -- said Washington only had itself to blame for its plight and called for a new stable global reserve currency.

"The U.S. government has to come to terms with the painful fact that the good old days when it could just borrow its way out of messes of its own making are finally gone," China's official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

After a week which saw $2.5 trillion wiped off global markets, the move deepened investors' concerns of an impending recession in the United States and over the euro zone crisis.

If the world took the drastic step of changing the global reserve currency from the dollar to something else, the greenback would collapse causing economic chaos. The Cuban peso might look like a better investment at that point.

But China has been making this threat for years, and practically speaking, there really isn't a good alternative to the dollar - yet. For a while, it looked like the Euro might challenge the dollar's supremecy but that idea has gone by the boards due to the debt crisis in the Euro zone and the probability that at some point, Greece, Portugal, and perhaps even Ireland will dump the European currency altogether.

More worrisome is that China and other creditors will almost certainly demand a larger premium for buying our bonds. Raising interest rates in such a weak economy to placate our creditors would almost certainly cause us to slip back into recession.

Ironically, because China and the rest of the world can ill-afford for America to go back into recession, that call for higher interest on bonds will probably wait until the US economy is a little stronger.