November 22, 2004

With a Word

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From The Washington Times: Fed chief shakes markets.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan shook financial markets [Friday] with a warning that foreign nations may tire of financing the huge U.S. trade and budget deficits.

The dollar, stocks and bonds all plunged after he told the European Banking Congress in Frankfurt, Germany, that the U.S. currency will keep dropping and interest rates will have to rise considerably to keep attracting the foreign funds needed to finance the deficits.

The U.S. budget deficit last year reached a record $413 billion and is projected to stay above $300 billion a year unless budget policies are changed. The trade deficit is running at $600 billion a year -- nearly 6 percent of the nation's economic output.

"Given the size of the U.S. current-account deficit, a diminished appetite for adding to dollar balances must occur at some point" among foreign investors who have accumulated trillions of dollars in claims against the U.S. government and residents by financing the debt, Mr. Greenspan said.

Private investors from around the world already pulled back in a big way when the dollar started falling precipitously a year ago, forcing central banks primarily those of China and Japan to step in to keep propping up the dollar and financing the deficits.

History shows that most countries have a preference for keeping their investments at home and will not continue to underwrite spending in the United States indefinitely, he said.

While the United States has detected only "limited" resistance in trying to finance the deficits so far, the Fed chairman warned against "complacency" because odds dictate that the unprecedented torrent of cash coming in from overseas will not continue.

Stocks fell after Mr. Greenspan's warning, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending down nearly 116 points at 10,456.91.

Posted by Forkum at November 22, 2004 08:31 PM
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