Two other countries – the financially failed Cyprus and the financially manipulative China – now are telling America how to run its finances.
The United States Congress just this week voted to allow President Barack Obama to borrow and spend or give away more money – this time without a dollar limit – assuring that debts due and interest payments compounding will be paid.
The White House immediately announced that another $328 billion had been borrowed, pushing the nation’s debt past $17 trillion.
But the rest of the world has been watching the implications for the U.S. dollar, the favored currency globally for people and nations to have, and several countries now have started offering advice.
Former Cypriot Finance Minister Michael Sarris, for example, said spending cuts are going to have to happen in the U.S.
“The U.S. has been fortunate in the sense that it’s like a bank, it prints the money that other people accept. So you can live beyond your means over an extended period of time without being punished by the market,” he said.
However, he added, “Clearly we have seen that enough people are now seriously concerned about that and both domestically and internationally so the answer is yes, [America has been living beyond its means.]”
His comments came in an interview with RT television.
“Reasonable people can have differences about the role of government. Is it too big? Too small? Should it be borrowing? Too much? Should it be solving Social Security…,” he said. “But the way to solve this problem is not on a cliffhanger, on a crisis, and on a kind of impression that your” blackmailing.”
Cyprus had to be bailed out by international banks, and even confiscated massive amounts of wealth private companies and individuals had in their bank accounts, to remain solvent earlier this year.
“Taking a more responsible attitude,” he said, was important. “Take a national, global responsibility and see this problem. … It doesn’t really help to be polarized.”
Further, those cuts are required, he said.
“You cannot pay for everything… you really have to make choices. … You’ve got to make those cuts,” he said.
China, too, was full of advice.
According to the New York Times, China is the world’s largest investor in American public debt, with an estimated $1.3 trillion in holdings.
So it has a vested interest in what happens.
But a recent commentary from the Xinhua news agency called for a replacement of the American dollar, and an overall “de-Americanized world.”
Not too different from the noises emanating from Beijing several years ago when the U.S. also was facing a banking crunch.
The Times reported, “Xinhua embellished its call for a new reserve currency with a scathing indictment of the United States’ broader role in the world, saying that the Obama administration claimed ‘the moral high ground’ while covertly ‘torturing prisoners of war, slaying civilians in drone attacks and spying on world leaders.'”
But analysts also pointed out that Beijing’s hands are tied. China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, cannot dump its Treasury bonds without driving down their value and incurring a painful loss on paper.
“This is certainly a wake-up call for them that holding U.S. government securities is not risk-free,” Nicholas R. Lardy, an expert on the Chinese economy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the Times. “What they should be doing is quit adding to their foreign reserves.”