Paul Krugman is at it again with his calls, using a model based on what I believe to be an entirely flawed conception of monetary policy at the zero bound, to argue that China’s currency policy is harming the US:
So again, the Fed is moving in the right direction, both for US interests and for the sake of the world as a whole. China is beggaring its neighbors, which in this case means everyone else.
Krugman is continuing his call that we begin threatening to engage in protectionism through legislation aimed at Chinese products. Of course, this is wholly unnecessary. Matt Yglesias has the money quote:
The Chinese government’s discomfort with monetary stimulus is understandable. Monetary stimulus plus Chinese currency policy will equal an undesirably large amount of inflation in China. That means that in order to avoid an undesirably large amount of inflation, Chinese leaders will need to engage in a more rapid currency readjustment than they want to. That, however, merely underscores that unilateral monetary action is the right way for the US government to handle our concerns about China’s currency policy. We don’t need to threaten them, or bribe them, or cajole them, or go to “currency war” or anything. What we need to do is to adopt monetary policies that are appropriate for our economic situation. The Chinese will learn to deal with it, and in the longer term we’ll all be better off.
Which highlights the idea that beggar-thy-neighbor policies are anything but zero-sum games when it comes to money. All currencies can’t devalue against each other simultaneously, but all currencies can depreciate relative to goods and services…and that has a stimulative effect. Depending on the relative slope of your economy’s SRAS curve that either means higher inflation or higher real output. Monetary easing in the United States would likely mean higher real output in the US…but it would likely mean higher inflation in China.
What exactly does that do? It gives China cover to adjust their exchange rate policy. A policy of easy money in the US actually benefits both the US and China (assuming that China will follow an optimal policy regime).
What is embarrassing is that we live in a rich country, with a fiat currency, and we are still having a conversation about how to get the economy off the ground…and furthermore contemplating highly detrimental policies in order to do so.