Today on Bloomberg Television, NYU professor and economist Nouriel Roubini talked about the euro and China's currency during a panel with Bloomberg TV's Tom Keene at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.
On the U.S. political economic projection:
"We have to address own problems. If you're looking at advanced economies, there's a series of problems that are going to remain with us, leaving aside geopolitical challenges we're facing. We're coming out of the balance sheets of a recession. We have excesses of debt and leverage in the housing sector, in the financial system and in the government sector, both state and local and federal level…That's a problem in the U.S., in the Eurozone, in Japan, in the most advanced economies. There is a problem of sovereign risk. The bond market vigilantes have already woken up in the periphery of the Eurozone. They have not woken up yet in the U.S., or U.K and Japan."
"[The bond vigilantes have not woken up] for a number of reasons… In the U.S., U.K. and Japan, we can, if we want to, monetize our fiscal deficit and we have done so to some level. In the case of Greece, you either raise taxes or cut spending…To monetize it is not an option because the ECB is institutionally having a single band-aid price and the ECB is more hawkish than the Fed. If Greece cannot resolve its debt problem through traditional taxes, then it will have to do an orderly debt restructuring and that will be, in my view, at this point unavoidable."
On the euro number where instability really comes into play:
"I would say that Germany, being uber-competitive, can live with the euro at $1.50 but the euro at $1.40 was already painful for the periphery of the Eurozone, where you have a bad period of wages growing more than productivity, labor costs rising…The euro should be much weaker than it is right now, to try to restore some growth in the peripheral Eurozone."
On whether the euro problems are due to the U.S. or the ECB:
"It is a combination. On the one side, the ECB is going to keep on tightening because they care about core inflation and not about growth, because the core is doing well while the Fed is going to stay on hold.”
"Financials are going to push the euro higher, but once it reaches the threshold of pain, it will cause more damage on the periphery and growth is going to disappear, it's not much there, the sovereign problem will be exacerbated, banking problems, competitiveness, so the euro, like in the spring of last year, we can go to $1.50, but once the periphery is damaged it can fall again."
"On the other side, there's also a fundamental weakness of the dollar because of the fiscal deficit and the Fed being on hold. But the way I described the FX market for last year, it's been like a beauty contest, not an issue of who is the prettiest or most handsome, but who's the least ugly.
"In the spring of last year, the dollar was less ugly because we had the euro crisis, the Greek crisis. Then by the summer, we had the risk of a double-dip recession, QE2 and then the euro became less ugly…So today the euro looks less ugly. It's really a beauty contest of who is the least ugly and that swings over time depending on growth concerns, sovereign debt, interest rate policies."
On which nation's currency will lead in this exchange rate game:
"Certainly not China. Because in this fundamental exchange rate game, the currencies that should be appreciating are those that are undervalued…while those that should be depreciating are the U.S., U.K. and other countries that have a bubble that went bust and now need net export growth given the domestic growth is going to be anemic…”
"The trouble is that China is resisting its currency from not depreciating. China is shadowing the U.S. dollar and then every other emerging market in the world, not just in Asia but those in Latin America, they say if China resists appreciating its currency, they don’t want to lose market share to China and they don't want a flood of cheap Chinese goods destroying their import competing sector."
On the economy in China:
"In China today, fixed investment is 50% of GDP and consumption is only 35% of GDP and has been falling...So the model of global China, net export net growth, more fixed investment, infrastructure, real estate, manufacturing, is not sustainable because no country can be so productive…Historically, every case of an over-investment has ended up in a hard landing. The Soviet Union. Latin America in the 70's, the U.S. in the 90's. There has never been a case of a return from an over-investment boom having a soft landing.
“I don't expect a hard landing to occur in China until after 2013 because next year, there'll be a change in political leadership. And that's going to be delicate. They're going to do everything to maintain growth."
On the Chinese renminbi:
"One year ago, I wrote an op-ed arguing over the next 20 years, the renminbi could become a major reserve currency…I said the next 20 years, but in the last year China has done so much to internationalize the role of renminbi as a unit of account, as a method of payment..So capital mobility is going to occur slowly, they're going to do it gradually, I think it's going to happen after 2012."
"But for example, now they are creating a renminbi-dominated market in Hong Kong to become significant in importance. They are doing it by pushing it offshore rather than inshore…But the Chinese have actually accelerated the pace at which they're making the renminbi a more international currency, much faster than I ever expected."
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